The Maritime Union of Australia has urged the Northern Territory Government to introduce industrial manslaughter legislation after Darwin shipping company Conlon Murphy was fined just $190,000 for the preventable death of Daniel Bradshaw in January 2017.
MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said the Mr Bradshaw’s death, where the court found there the company had failed to put in place a simple, well-known safety measure to address an issue which posed an “obvious risk of death” was a prime example of why tougher laws were needed.
“If someone acts recklessly while driving or in other areas of life and their actions result in someone’s death, they face prosecution for manslaughter,” Mr Crumlin said.
“Yet when an employer deliberately cuts corners, knowingly putting workers at risk, and kills someone due to their negligence, the most they face is a paltry fine.
“This is absolutely unacceptable and it is time the law caught up with community expectations that employers act in a way that protects the lives of workers.”
Mr Bradshaw was 37 years old when he was found floating in Darwin Harbour close to the Sammy Express barge where he had been living and working during his fly-in-fly-out shift.
There was no gangway in place to allow safe access to the barge, with workers instead required to jump across a gap, grab hold of a tyre tied to the wharf, before pulling themselves up with chains and rope.
The NT Coroner determined that Mr Bradshaw likely failed to negotiate this manoeuvre, lost his grip and hit the back of his neck before falling into the water unconscious.
“This tragic death wasn’t some unforeseen accident, there was an obvious risk of serious injury or death posed by the extraordinarily unsafe access arrangements,” Mr Crumlin said.
“Worst of all, there was a gangway available that could have been used, but the company chose not to put it in place.
“Every time a worker died, they leave behind devastated families, friends and communities.
“That’s why we need tough laws that make it clear that the life of every Australian workers is important, that they must be protected, and that employers who chose to put profits ahead of people’s lives will receive a greater penalty than a little fine or a slap on the wrist.
Daniels wife Tanya and family have been dealt the worst outcome imaginable for any person. Their pain and tragic consequences that go along with his death will last their lifetime in one way or another. They deserve better justice and support than this”