‘Mind-boggling’ oversight led to crush death of worker

Rex Martinich |

Narellan Pools has been fined $1.5 million for negligence and causing a worker’s death.
Narellan Pools has been fined $1.5 million for negligence and causing a worker’s death.

Workers at a plant where a man was crushed to death by a 12-tonne crane had previously complained about its operator driving too fast, a judge has heard.

The Narellan Pools corporation pleaded guilty in Brisbane District Court on Friday to conducting business while negligent and causing the death of a worker, and was fined $1.5 million.

Judge William Everson said the charge was the most serious of its type and equivalent to industrial manslaughter.

“This is no doubt a serious breach that led to a tragic outcome,” Judge Everson said.

Kamndiin Turner, 42, was killed on August 19, 2021 at the Narellan Pools Queensland Manufacturing Facility in the Gold Coast suburb of Stapylton as he guided a four-wheeled mobile crane moving a 650kg fibreglass pool shell.

The Ipswich man was working as a dogger holding a guideline for the pool before the crane’s operator drove towards him and ran him over before reversing back over his body.

Work Health and Safety prosecutor Simon Nicholson said Mr Turner died from asphyxia due to his lower abdomen being crushed.

“Another worker came to the assistance of Mr Turner, first aid was administered, however Mr Turner was declared dead soon afterwards,” Mr Nicholson said.

Mr Nicholson played a short security camera video that captured part of the incident to Judge Everson.

The crane could be seen transferring the pool shell from an industrial building to a yard with the load swinging from side to side due to the vehicle’s speed before a worker was seen running for help.

Mr Nicholson said workers had previously complained to management about the crane’s operator, Lyall Francis Tadman, claiming he was driving too fast and on one occasion hitting a parked car.

Tadman pleaded guilty in Beenleigh Magistrates Court in January 2024 to failing to comply with a health and safety duty.

He was fined $25,000 and no conviction was recorded.

Judge Everson said Narellan Pools had failed to anticipate the danger of people working in concert with a mobile crane.

“It is mind-boggling that (Narellan Pools and its safety consultant) did not identify the risks when moving huge pools,” Judge Everson said.

Narellan Pools did not have a strategy to reduce the risks such as having another person act as spotter or supplying a means of direct communication between ground workers and the crane operator.

The corporation’s managing director Peter Baily attended court as part of the sentencing.

Defence barrister Benjamin McMillan said Narellan Pools had no other safety breach convictions and tried to have a second safety examination at the Stapylton plant before the accident but was prevented by COVID-19 border closures.

“My client expresses its deep regret and sorrow for its conduct that contributed to its occurrence,” Mr McMillan said.

Judge Everson said Narellan Pools had provided financial support to Mr Turner’s family but its safety breaches were flagrant and he had to deter other businesses from similar offending.

As well as the $1.5 million fine, a conviction was recorded against the corporation.

AAP