Construction company John Holland Ltd has been fined $130,000 after sections of concrete pipe fell from a road project in Adelaide smashing into two cars.

In the first prosecution under new federal work, health and safety laws, the company pleaded guilty in the Adelaide Magistrates Court to two charges of breaching safety regulations in relation to the incident on the South Road Superway in 2012.

No one was hurt even though the pipe crashed through the windscreen of one of the vehicles.

In his sentencing remarks on Wednesday, Magistrate Paul Foley said the company’s guilty pleas acknowledged that its failures exposed two members of the public to the risk of serious injury or death.

He said the risks associated with installing the stormwater pipes should have been identified during the planning stages of construction.

The piece of pipe that fell weighed up to 48 kilograms and fell 14.5 metres from the elevated roadway under construction, hitting the two cars that were stopped at traffic lights.

A sling was being used to manoeuvre the pipe into position but it snapped because it was not properly supported.

Federal regulator Comcare said the case was a clear example of the company failing to meet its health and safety obligations.

“The drivers whose cars were hit by the pipe were exposed to risks that were entirely preventable,” Comcare chief executive Jennifer Taylor said.