Australian crane operator pleads guilty in co-worker’s death
The operator of a crane involved in the death of a worker at an Australia construction site has pleaded guilty to reckless conduct exposing persons to a risk of serious injury or death.
Michael Watts entered the guilty plea last week to the offense under the country’s Work Health Safety Act 2011. Watts had originally been charged with manslaughter under the Crimes Act.
News sources say Herman Holtz, 62, was killed in August 2016 at a University of Canberra Hospital construction site when the mobile crane Watts was driving rolled and hit him. Watts was using the crane to move a large generator.
According to testimony before the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court, Watts had been operating the crane at night with reduced lighting and visibility, and on unstable and dangerous terrain.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 16. Watts could be sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay a $300,000 fine, or both.
The ACT Government announced a boost in funding for the WorkSafe ACT, which enforces the Territory's health and safety and workers' compensation laws through a mixture of education and compliance activities. The agency will receive an $8.7 million over four years that will allow it to increase in the number of inspectors and staff.