VicRoads and roadworks firm fined $1.55 million over worker’s death

VicRoads and roadworks firm Downer EDI have today been convicted and fined a total of $1.55 million over the 2011 death of a traffic controller.


VicRoads pleaded guilty to one breach of the 2004 Occupational Health and Safety Act in that it failed to maintain a safe system of work. It was fined $250,000.

Downer EDI was found guilty of three charges: failing to provide a safe system of work, failing to provide employees with information, instruction and training for them to perform their job safely and failing to ensure people other than their employees were not exposed to health and safety risks.

Earlier this year, Downer EDI pleaded not guilty to all charges but a County Court jury had found it guilty of each. Judge Parrish today fined the company $1.3 million.

The court had heard that on 30 November 2011, worker Harry Zagaretos was struck and killed by a street sweeper during late-night roadworks in Bayswater.

Mr Zagaretos was employed by Statewide Traffic Control, which was subcontracted by Downer EDI. He died shortly after the street sweeper reversed over him as he was aligning bollards to separate traffic from resurfacing works on Canterbury Rd.

The court heard the likelihood of the risk of death or serious injury eventuating from a collision between the sweeper and workers was high, and that safety concerns raised by Mr Zagaretos to the site supervisor in relation to the driving of the sweeper had not been addressed.

On 12 February 2014 Wayne Pollard, who was driving the street sweeper at the time, was sentenced to a two year Community Corrections Order and ordered to perform 500 hours of unpaid community work.

WorkSafe’s Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said the penalties for VicRoads and Downer EDI reflected the seriousness of the offence.

“Any work that involves the need for pedestrian employees to be around traffic is high risk, and safety needs to be considered above everything at all times,” Ms Williams said.

“There is little doubt that had Mr Zagaretos’ concerns been listened to, and the risks at the site been addressed, this tragedy would not have happened.”

To reduce the risk of injury or death to vulnerable road users such as pedestrian employees, employers should ensure that:

  • Worksites are well-lit, and that adequate signage and barriers exist to warn and direct traffic away from employees.
  • Adequate space is provided for plant set up and vehicle operation.
  • A documented traffic management plan is in place, adhered to and regularly reviewed, and that all workers on site are aware of it.
  • The risks associated with installing, operating and removing traffic control devices are addressed.
  • Safe Work Method Statements outlining how hazardous tasks should be completed are developed, adhered to and regularly reviewed.