ACT News

Criminal charges laid in northside workplace death of Wayne Vickery

Wayne Vickery: Killed on a West Macgregor worksite in 2011.
Wayne Vickery: Killed on a West Macgregor worksite in 2011. 

The family of workplace death victim Wayne Vickery have mixed feelings about criminal charges being laid against his employer.

On one hand, Mr Vickery's wife, Fiona, wants unsafe work practices stopped. But she fears a prosecution could jeopardise the jobs of her husband's workmates.

Earth-moving company Canberra Contractors has been charged and face a maximum fine of $1.1 million over the workplace death of the Yass construction worker.

The inquest into the death of Mr Vickery, 45, on Tuesday heard the company would be prosecuted for failing to comply with a safety duty recklessly causing serious harm. An alternate charge of negligently causing serious harm had also been laid.

A Canberra prosecutor told the ACT Coroners Court that a summons had been issued which required the company to appear in October.

The charges mean the inquest into Mr Vickery's death must now be put on hold. Chief Coroner Lorraine Walker adjourned the matter until February for mention.

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Mr Vickery was working for Canberra Contractors on a Village Building Company project when he was fatally struck by a heavy grader on a West Macgregor building site about 2pm on December 12, 2011. The building industry veteran and a co-worker had been levelling a road on the project at the time.

The court has previously heard Mr Vickery checked levels on foot, while the co-worker drove the grader. Mr Vickery had crouched on his hands and knees to check levels, an unconventional method, and would usually complete the inspection while in front of the vehicle. The pair had communicated via eye contact and hand gestures.

The grader had a warning alarm when placed in reverse and a rear-view mirror, but no side mirrors.

About 2pm, Mr Vickery had crouched behind the machine to conduct a check when the grader reversed into him.

Ms Vickery said new charges had been expected, but she still experienced mixed feelings.

"On one hand, I don't want anyone to lose their jobs, as Wayne's workmates are still doing it tough," Ms Vickery said. "On the other hand I don't want anyone to die due to unsafe work practices.

"I do not want anyone else involved in the construction industry to suffer the stress, anxiety and heartbreak that Wayne's family, workmates and employer have had to endure."

Ms Vickery said the stalled inquest meant those affected by the death could not move on with their lives.

"The family would like the process to be finalised, but given the charges this will not be happening soon," she said. "There is still no end in sight."