A Nishi worker was refused help and sent to work alone near a deep, dark shaft before he fell five metres "into the void" in a disturbing industrial accident.
Jayson Bush, then 22, fractured his back and ribs in the fall, and lay alone in the darkness for hours, trying in vain to call for help.
Mr Bush watched on in court on Wednesday, as his employer Corporate Ventures Pty Ltd, trading as fire protection company Bowsers, was fined $270,000 by Industrial Magistrate Lorraine Walker for safety failings relating to the 2012 fall.
A loophole in new work safety legislation prevented him from telling the court how the accident had impacted on his life, something Ms Walker called on the government to look into.
Before the accident, the worker had been tasked with making penetrations in fire resistant speed panels being installed at the Nishi building construction site in New Acton.
Mr Bush had asked whether another worker could come with him, but he was refused, and was sent alone to work near the shaft.
The young labourer has no specific memory of how the accident occurred.
But he fell more than five metres down into the darkness, landing on a concrete floor at the bottom.
He lay there for hours, trying unsuccessfully to call for help on his mobile phone. He got through to triple-0 but the reception was poor and Mr Bush was dazed due to his injuries, causing confusion before the line dropped out.
"He must have been very distressed at this stage," Ms Walker said.
Mr Bush yelled out for help and was eventually found with serious and extensive injuries, that still have a lasting impact.
The ACT Industrial Court heard on Wednesday that the company did have safety systems in place that were comprehensive.
But they failed to put proper safety measures in place for Mr Bush's specific task, after the nature of the work changed.
Originally, the company were only required to install the speed panels. Then they were told they needed to make small penetrations in them for air conditioning units. Finally they were told the penetrations needed to be bigger for louvres.
That left Mr Bush cutting large holes into heavy, awkwardly-positioned panels with the shaft behind them. When he fell, he fell forward and bits of the heavy panel went with him, landing on top of his body.
The court heard the company could have used edge protection, harnesses, or other fall-protection measures to prevent the accident.
But it also heard the director acted immediately to investigate the accident, ordering a report the day it occurred.
He went to visit Mr Bush in hospital, something that deeply affected him, the court heard.
The director offered financial help to him and his family, and offered his colleagues counselling and unpaid leave.
The company, which already had a good safety record, went on to significantly strengthen the way it dealt with work site safety.
"It's all hands on deck in terms of safety as a result of his incident," the company's lawyer said on Wednesday.
Ms Walker acknowledged the extent of the company's efforts to ensure safety.
The business later had to close down its Canberra operations, after struggling to find work. That left other workers redundant.
Prosecutor Sara Gul said the case was one where safety systems were in place generally, but just not for Mr Bush's specific task.
"It's clear your honour that this was a foreseeable incident, and the actions taken afterwards could have been taken before the incident," she said.
Ms Walker said the case clearly showed that paperwork does not guarantee safety. She said it was the way safety precautions and systems were practically implemented that was most important.