A construction firm and its director have each been ordered to pay $200,00 following the death of a worker at the site of the Adelaide desalination plant.

The worker, 35-year-old Brett Fritsch, was killed in July 2010 after a sling broke and a 1.8-tonne steel beam came crashing down on him.

Rigging company Ferro Con SA pleaded guilty of a failure to provide a safe system of work under the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1986 and its director, Paolo Maione, pleaded guilty under the same Act with failure to take reasonable steps to ensure the company’s compliance with safety requirements.

The court heard neither a risk assessment nor a job safety analysis were conducted before the beam was lifted into place even though two workers were directly below it – conduct magistrate Stephen Lieschke says represented a failure to identify foreseeable hazards in dangerous steel erection work.

Lieschke also hit out at the Maione for trying to avoid the financial consequences of his actions by taking out insurance cover to pay his fine – a move the magistrate says negated the impact of the court’s sentencing powers.

“The message his actions send to employers and responsible officers is that with insurance cover for criminal penalties, there is little need to fear the consequences,” he said.

SafeWork SA executive director Bryan Russell says the tragedy and subsequent ruling underscore the need for employers to ensure workplaces meet safety standards and send a clear message about their legal obligations.

Both Ferro Con and Maione faced potential maximum fines of $300,000 for a first offence involving serious breaches with fatal consequences.

Maione was also ordered to pay $20,000 compensation to Fritsch’s family and publish notices of the conviction and penalty to his employees and in newspapers.