Fishing company charged over 2013 electrocution

‚ÄčNT WorkSafe has charged Austral Fisheries Pty Ltd with breaching Section 32 the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 after the death of a deckhand on an Austral Fisheries vessel.

This follows a decision by NT WorkSafe to reopen its 2013 investigation into the death of Ryan Donoghue.

On 29 November 2013, Mr Donoghue was electrocuted after being hit by a wave while using a mains powered angle grinder on-board the fishing vessel Newfish1.

It is alleged that Austral Fisheries Pty Ltd failed to mitigate the risk of death or serious injury from electrocution during the use of power tools on the deck of the vessel.

The Executive Director of NT WorkSafe, Stephen Gelding said the length of time it has taken for the matter to be brought to court was regrettable.

“The vessel was outside of Australian territorial waters heading to its home port in Cairns at the time of the incident,” Mr Gelding said.

“The location of the vessel meant the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and NT WorkSafe potentially had jurisdiction to investigate.”

“The preliminary findings from our investigation were handed to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland after we received legal advice that they had jurisdiction,” Mr Gelding said.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland completed their investigation on 3 March 2015 and decided not to prosecute. The Northern Territory Coroner held an inquest into the accident in April 2016 and referred the matter to NT WorkSafe for consideration.

“NT WorkSafe has sought independent legal advice from an interstate Senior Counsel to ensure the question over jurisdiction does not impact on our prospects of a successful prosecution,” Mr Gelding said.

“I hope the laying of charges will assist in providing closure for Mr Donoghue’s family.”

Austral Fisheries Pty Ltd faces a maximum penalty of $1,500,000 if found guilty.

The matter is listed for mention in the Darwin Local Court on Tuesday 18 July 2017.

Peter Chan
0401 114 569