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Kenoss Contractors senior manager to fight charges over ACT workplace death

Date

Megan Gorrey

A Canberra construction company director accused of safety breaches linked to the death of a man at a northside worksite has indicated he will fight the charges.

Munir al-Hasani, also known as Allan Hassani, has become the the first senior manager to be charged over the death of an employee in a workplace incident in Australia.

Mr al-Hasani and Kenoss Contractors both face charges in relation to the death of Michael Booth, 48. 

The Gunning truck driver died after he was electrocuted while working for the company at a Turner worksite in 2012.

Mr Booth had tipped his truck to offload gravel at a dumping station when the trailer hit a power line.

Mr al-Hasani's barrister Bill Andrews indicated his client would plead not guilty to two charges brought against him in the ACT Industrial Court on Tuesday. 

Workplace safety authorities charged the company and Mr al-Hasani last month, but proceedings stalled following confusion over whether the company, which went into liquidation late last year, would be in a position to defend the accusations. 

The Director of Public Prosecutions will allege Kenoss Contractors and Mr al-Hasani breached their duties under section 32 of the the territory's Work Health and Safety Act, putting Mr Booth at risk of serious injury or death.

The company and Mr al-Hasani face similar charges, which relate to a failure to maintain safe work systems, and a failure to maintain a safe work environment without risks to health and safety.

If found guilty, the company could face a fine of $1.5 million and Mr al-Hasani could be fined $300,000, under new nationally harmonised work health and safety legislation.

The court heard defence lawyers would no longer appear for Kenoss Contractors and any charges would need to be defended by the company's liquidators, Sydney accountancy firm RSM Bird Cameron. 

Once a company was in liquidation, a grant of leave was required from the ACT Supreme Court before legal proceedings could be brought against the business, the court heard.

Prosecutor James Walker said there was good authority to suggest that requirement only applied to civil proceedings, not criminal proceedings, and should not get in the way of the case going ahead.

Mr Walker said the company had been insolvent since December 2012, but did not enter into voluntary liquidation until a meeting on October 10 last year.

The liquidators will attend court on June 17 to allow ACT Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker to determine whether the prosecution can proceed.

A three-day hearing has been set down to begin on December 17.

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