Cleanaway facing $12m fine over fatal crash

Waste management company facing $12 million fine over 2014 crash that killed two and injured two others

Cleanaway facing $12m fine over fatal crash
Comcare is bringing the allegations forward.


Federal work health and safety regulator Comcare has announced legal proceedings against national waste management company Cleanaway, formerly Transpacific Industries, over a crash in Adelaide that killed two people.

Facing a fine of up to $12 million, Cleanaway is the subject of a complaint and summons lodged in the Magistrates Court of South Australia by Comcare alleging it "breached the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act eight times in relation to the collision."

The collision, which took place on August 18, 2014, saw a loaded tanker hit three cars at the Cross Road intersection on Adelaide’s South Eastern Freeway after losing control during a steep descent.

According to Comcare, Cleanaway allegedly "failed to provide adequate training and supervision to the truck’s inexperienced driver."

"This included instruction on safely negotiating the freeway’s steep descent from the Adelaide Hills, using arrester beds and driving a heavy vehicle with a manual gearbox," it says.

Comcare also alleges "Cleanaway did not maintain a safe system of work to ensure driver competency."

The accident resulted in two deaths and left two people, including the truck driver, with serious injuries.

Reports suggest the truck may have been travelling at close to 150km/h at the point of impact.

After the incident, the South Australian government lowered the speed limit on the descent and promised greater enforcement in the area.

The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) has used the news to call for "more accountability at the top" from operators.

"Despite having to ground its entire fleet because of defects following the crash, the company faces fines while Mr Hicks faces possible jail," the union says.

TWU South Australia and Northern Territory branch secretary Ray Wyatt says it should not be the driver who pays the price for the accident, rather the cost cutting from major retailers, manufacturers and governments that sees trucks not maintained or drivers inadequately trained.

"The driver, as has happened in many cases before, is carrying the entire burden for an industry in crisis," Wyatt says.

"The company will pay fines but this young driver’s life is ruined – all because of a company which chose not to prioritise safety."

Despite neither driver pay nor owner-drivers being the cause of the crash, Wyatt has used the occasion to highlight the closure of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) by the federal government and "their mates in the South Australia Road Transport Association… which has left our industry less safe."

"This system was holding wealthy clients to account for the low cost contracts they give to transport operators to deliver their goods and collect their waste," he says.

A product of the Labor government, the RSRT came into effect for a short period of time this year before being removed by the current federal government after calls it discriminated against owner-driver operators.  

The date of the Cleanaway hearing is yet to be confirmed.



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