Fatalities, Insurance and failed paper systems: Hillman v Ferro Con (SA) [2013] SAIRC 22

On 16 July 2010 a fatality occurred during lifting operations at the Adelaide desalination water plant. A rigger employed by Ferro Con (SA) Pty Ltd was killed when he was struck on the head by a 1.8 tonne steel beam.

The Company, Ferro Con, and its Director, Paolo Maione were prosecuted under South Australian health and safety legislation, and in June 2013 were handed fines of over $200,000.

The case has attracted some attention because Mr Maione was able to call on an insurance policy to pay his penalty – effectively avoiding the punishment of the Court. It has long been thought, in my view correctly, that insurance to pay for effectively criminal penalties is counter to public policy and unlawful and it will be interesting to see if there is any “public policy” response to the decision.

Over and above the insurance aspects of the case, the judgement offers some good insights into the weaknesses of “paper based” safety management systems, a compliance mentality and lack of assurance. The judgement also explores some issues in the Principal/Contractor relationship.

You can see a video presentation about the case here.

Also, set out below are links to various references and materials referred to in the discussion if you would like to explore some of the concepts further.

Links to material referred to in the presentation.

Video presentation – case review: Capon v BHP Billiton Iron Ore Charge No. 1917/11

Video presentation – case review: Fry v Keating [2013] WASCA 109

Court judgement: Silent Vector v Shepherd & Anor [2003] WASCA 315

Court judgement: Hillman v Ferro Con (SA) Pty Ltd (in Liquidation) & Anor [2013] SAIRC 22

Article: Borys, D. (2009). Exploring risk-awareness as a cultural approach to safety: Exposing the gap between work as imagined and work as actually performed. Safety Science Monitor, 13(2), Article 3.

5 thoughts on “Fatalities, Insurance and failed paper systems: Hillman v Ferro Con (SA) [2013] SAIRC 22

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