Vic Builder Fined $300k After Death 2

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016
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A Melbourne building firm fined over a fatal wall collapse should have known the freestanding structure could be dangerous, a court has heard.

Carpenter and father-of-two Michael Klanja died in June 2014 after strong wind felled a brick wall at a Brighton East construction site where he was working as a contractor.

Bilic Homes, the company overseeing the project, was fined $300,000 on over the deadly incident.

Victorian County Court Judge Jane Campton said the firm – which pleaded guilty to one count of failing to maintain a safe working environment – should have been aware the wall posed a risk.

The structure’s lack of bracing meant collapse was foreseeable on a windy day, and it wouldn’t have been complicated to secure the wall, Judge Campton said.

A single length of timber, staked to the ground at one end, could have been used as a prop.

The freestanding wall stood for about 10 days before it collapsed and killed Mr Klanja on June 23 two years ago.

On that day, severe weather including strong wind was predicted.

Mr Klanja, 30, and another tradesman were working at the back of the construction site when a gust of wind brought the wall down on Mr Klanja.

His workmate tried to save him, but Mr Klanja died in hospital, the court heard.

Bilic Homes’ director, Stanko Bilic, had visited the construction site regularly after the wall was erected, but did not ensure the structure was braced, Judge Campton said.

She said the wall was a risk to anyone on the site, but also acknowledged Bilic Homes’ genuine remorse and lack of any prior convictions.

The court heard Mr Bilic was devastated and distressed after the incident.

Mr Klanja’s wife, Isabel Klanja, was in court for sentencing.

Her victim impact statement, read at a previous hearing, revealed her devastation over Mr Klanja’s death.

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  1. Anne Paten

    What is $300,000? Deaths and injuries of workers are the result of a lawless industry – where there is almost no auditing or enforcement of compliance, be it building or safety. This case where a penalty has been applied is a rare exception. There are many cases every day, these not reported and no punishment metered out.

    People's lives shoul be the most important consideration – but this is definitely not the case in building. When will we see change? Never if we wait for it from the top. It is time for those in the industry to use their influence, but sadly there are few signs that this will happen. Over to the people to reclaim their rights. Let us do it for our children and grandchildren, be they workers or residents or owners of buildings.

    • Brett Bates

      And let's not forget that our nation is heading to an election in the next few weeks after one of the longest drawn out campaigns in history. And it has come about due to the double dissolution trigger of Parliament's failure to reinstate the power of the Australian Building Construction Commission. But the purpose of the ABCC is not associated in any way with the prevention of death and disability amongst workers in the building construction industry. It apparently has a far more important focus. Perhaps PM Turnbull can be called upon to remind us all of what the importance of the Commission is that it necessitated the termination of parliamentary governance in Australia?