John Holland fine for death of worker a slap on the wrist

Published: 16 May 2016

The $170,000 fine imposed on John Holland by the Federal Court in Brisbane over the death of a worker in 2011 at the Airport Link Tunnel site is a ‘slap on the wrist’ according to the CFMEU.

National Construction Secretary Dave Noonan labelled the fine as ‘obscene and tokenistic.’

“Is the community supposed to accept that a life is worth $170,000?

“We have a situation where John Holland admitted to failing in their legal obligations to provide a safe system of work and a finding by the Federal Court that they breached Commonwealth health and safety laws.

“Despite the finding and an admission of guilt, they did a backroom deal with the regulator Comcare, resulting in a paltry fine – not an effective deterrent for their negligent practices which cost a man’s life.” 

Construction worker Samuel Beveridge died as a result of severe crush injuries after a section of smoke duct formwork on which he was working, collapsed on him.

“The CFMEU had been pushing the company to act on serious safety breaches throughout the life of the project and we were met with resistance,” Mr Noonan said.

“We called for an investigation into their suitability to hold a Comcare licence and it fell on deaf ears.”

Since being granted a Comcare licence in 2007 John Holland has had six convictions recorded against them by the Federal Court and eight fatalities on Holland sites around Australia.

In November 2013, it was revealed that a senior executive with the company, Stephen Sasse had raised concerns that the project was operating in ‘contempt’ of safety systems, 17 months before the fatality. 

“Mr Sasse emailed all John Holland board members and their CEO detailing his concerns. Nothing was done in response,” said Mr Noonan.

“It is on the public record now that John Holland have a cavalier attitude to safety. They are a recidivist offender when it comes to breaching OHS laws.

“We repeat our call for a full investigation into the company’s safety practices and their suitability to hold a Comcare licence.”

Mr Noonan said that workers’ safety is not a priority for the Turnbull Government when you look at funding allocated to Safework Australia in the budget.

“$9.8 million goes to saving lives, while $34 million goes to the Fair Work Building Commission to prosecute workers and unions for taking action on safety.

“This is a clear indication of the Turnbull Government’s commitment to the property developers’ profits over and above that of saving the lives of ordinary working people.”

For details on John Holland’s safety record go to: