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Two construction workers rode on the back of a falling concrete slab, only to be crushed to death by a second slab at a Brisbane racecourse, a court has heard.

Details of how one of the men allegedly flagged safety concerns also emerged as the pair’s boss, Claudio D’Alessandro, faced the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Wednesday charged with their manslaughter.

Ashley Morris, 34, and Humberto Leite, 55, were killed after becoming sandwiched between two slabs in a domino effect at Eagle Farm Racecourse on October 6, according to police.

The court heard Mr Morris had texted D’Alessandro before the incident, flagging concerns that the panels didn’t properly fit on their bases in the pit.

It’s also alleged bracing on the blocks was grossly inadequate and “never capable of supporting the walls”, and the men’s only means of escape was a steel ladder set against one of the slabs.

The court was told three panels were already in place and D’Alessandro was on site overseeing the fourth being lowered into position.

“One panel began to fall forward and the two workers managed to scale the ladder on that wall and ride it down and jumped on to its back as it fell,” Senior Constable Christian Troeger stated in a document submitted to the court.

“The failure of this wall caused another wall to immediately fall forward as it was no longer supported.

“The two workers were unable to escape the second wall falling and were crushed to death between the two panels.”

D’Alessandro was arrested at Brisbane Airport this week trying to board a flight out of Australia, allegedly to go on a four-day holiday to the Philippines.

The company director, who has more than 40 years’ experience in the building industry, is accused of negligent work practices which led to the industrial accident.

Defence lawyer Michael Purcell said D’Alessandro had co-operated with the investigation; the allegation was of negligence, not criminal activity; and he wasn’t barred from leaving the country when he tried to fly to the Philippines.

Magistrate Anthony Gett did not consider him a flight risk and granted him bail.

“It is clear that the allegation concerns the defendant’s criminal responsibility as director and supervisor to the two deceased workers,” he said.

“The matter is still in the investigation stage and significant investigations are to continue.”

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union spokesman Andrew Ramsay, who visited the site on the day of the incident, praised police for charging someone so quickly.

“It’s amazing because we don’t see many people charged with manslaughter in the construction industry,” he said.

The case returns to court on December 12.

 
  • The repercussions will be felt for years to come not only by the families of the victims but also those that witnessed this horrendous accident
    At least now it can be seen that something is being done which will help ease their minds a little and give some hope in their absolute need for justice and answers. .
    But It should never have happened and will never be forgotten.

  • What an absolute tragedy.

    What must be remembered about this is that these men more than likely had families, and possibly might now have widows who have to go through life without their husband and children who now have to live without a father. At Christmas time and during birthdays and family occasions, the men who used to be there are not there. At graduation of any children these people have, a proud and smiling father won't be there. And this is two more men who won't grow old and see their grandchildren.

    That's the human cost behind all this.

    The message to bosses is that you are playing not just with the lives of those on the immediate work site but those of their families, colleagues, extended families, friends and communities.

  • It is an absolute tragedy. Radio news in Brisbane said that his company director's name was flagged at the airport when he tried to leave. There is far more to be revealed with this case.

  • There is much more to this case – the whistle blowers now beginning to shine some light. Otherwise, as is the norm, all will be covered up once again.
    It is well past the time for criminal penalties, and it seems that cross jurisdictional issues are a problem. However, this set of 'arrangements' is by no means 'accidental'! Everything in Building & Construction has been carefully crafted, developed down to the last little detail and with one single goal: to reward BUSINESS. And with all the risk and losses to be with workers in this instance, and overall with consumers, small construction industry businesses and workers. Delve beneath the surface, dig down to the substructure and at bedrock is unadulterated protection for all the crooks and criminals – no matter their offences. Be they fraud, serious injury, causing physical and psychological damage – or death! There are no penalties for the majority – if any ever applied, they are paltry. Whilst the bureaucracies continue to grow exponentially in the 'work safe' space, the serious injuries and deaths continue to increase, hidden from public view. This is especially the case in the mainstream media, inclusive of the internet. Just try to get details on the 196 Australian workers who died in 2015, or the 148 who have died to this point in 2016 – how, where, when, any action taken? Or what happened to the 640,000 seriously injured every year? Nowhere can anyone find the full story and join all the pieces of the jigsaw to get the full 'picture'. The truth, as in all spheres building, is secreted away. First we have the RIGHT TO KNOW. Second we MUST STAND UP and say this is NOT ACCEPTABLE. Third, we MUST FIGHT HARD AND FORCE CHANGE. All our lives depend upon it!

    • never a truer word said, my main concern and motivation comes from the deaths, the eagle farm project was on a down hill slide from May and BRC sat back and let it continually slide, until the tragedy !! and now claim zero liability ?? Just hope there is a justice and that the guy on the tools doesn't take the full blame, as duty of care must be made the key factor in this tragedy, Landfill logistics as the contractor for the pit, Criscon as the principle contractor for the project, and BRC as the Developer and project managers for the development or the projects , not one of them said no to the high risk job that took two lives, a job that was months in the planning, but left safety at the bottom of the check lists, over a few hundred dollars and some time, that is what these lives cost!!! if safety was at the top of the list on that project, enforced from the top, then this project would have been 100% better off, all high risks jobs done by the book, not to a shoe string budget !!

  • “It’s amazing because we don’t see many people charged with manslaughter in the construction industry,”. The charge of 'industrial manslaughter' is one thing. The chances of any custodial conviction penalty is zero. Again we have a state and federal jurisdictional misalignment on something as basic as safety. We have an Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner under Safe Work Australia and then the state based variant of a WorkCover Authority. The fact of the matter is that workplace safety must have a pathway to the top whereby a company director goes to prison. This tragic incident will inevitably be subsumed by the subcontractor relationship to the head contractor or PCBU – the Person Conducting the Business or Undertaking and a range of documentation that show the induction and risk management protocols were ticked off a standard checklist but when it comes to really managing risk in construction the budget and program constraints always take precedence. The myriad of legislation that obfuscates who should take responsibility and the blame for a grossly mismanaged operation to lower precast concrete panels into a pit that resulted in the deaths of two construction workers will ultimately only result in fines. No one goes to prison – ever. And you can bet that all over Australia, the same and even more risky work practices are gong on right now as you read this.

Dulux Exsulite Construction – 300 x 250 (expire Dec 31 2017)
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