A crane driver needs only to behave for 12 months in order to avoid spending time behind bars over the death of a fellow worker at the University of Canberra Hospital construction site.
Michael John Watts was attempting to lift and re-position a 10.3-tonne generator using a mobile crane at the Bruce site when the incident took place in August 2016.
The 48-year-old repeatedly overrode safety mechanisms and ignored warning alarms to continue operating the crane, which was overloaded when it tipped, crushing and instantly killing Herman Holtz.
Mr Holtz, 62, was usually the tower crane operator on the site, but at the time of the incident he was one of several men on the ground assisting Watts to shift the generator.
Nine people and corporations have been charged over the fatality, with Watts' case the first to be finalised.
Watts was initially charged with manslaughter, but the charge was abandoned when he pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of reckless conduct exposing a person to the risk of death or serious injury.
Watts also agreed to provide evidence that will assist in the prosecutions of his eight co-accused.
In the ACT Supreme Court on Monday, Chief Justice Helen Murrell sentenced Watts to 12 months in jail, but suspended the sentence immediately upon the Queenslander agreeing to comply with a good behaviour order for that period.
Watts' guilty plea and co-operation in providing evidence meant he avoided a sentence that would otherwise have been 20 months.
Chief Justice Murrell said Watts "was not on a frolic of his own" when the incident took place, and had been working under instructions from his employer, RAR Cranes, and the site's principal contractor, Multiplex, which employed Mr Holtz.
Chief Justice Murrell said Watts had been pressured to move the generator with some urgency, and had believed his regular but casual employment might be in jeopardy if he refused.
"In a practical sense, he was in a relatively powerless position, albeit a position in which many workers find themselves," she said.
Chief Justice Murrell said Watts had been concerned about the safety of using the mobile crane for the job, and raised the possibility of a larger crane being used instead.
Watts was told this was not an option, but was not informed that another crane driver had expressed the same reservations after previously moving the generator with the mobile crane.
The judge said if Watts had been aware of this driver's opinion, he would have refused to do the job.
Watts was also not told that RAR Cranes had proposed earlier on the day in question to use a larger crane, only for Multiplex to knock back the suggestion for financial and logistical reasons.
Chief Justice Murrell said Watts, regardless of his concerns and the fact he was acting under instructions, had "engaged in a variety of risky behaviours over a significant period" leading up to Mr Holtz's death.
She said Watts had operated the mobile crane in excess of its rated capacity three separate times while lifting the generator. Watts also failed to adequately plan or undertake a risk assessment, took an unsafe route, fitted a counterweight incorrectly, and operated the crane in poor light.
While corporations held primary responsibility for safety on the site, the judge found that did not absolve individual workers like Watts of their own obligations.
Chief Justice Murrell said Watts was "extremely remorseful" and "deeply ashamed", and had often remarked to his wife that he was the one who should have died.
The judge said Watts had been assessed as being a low risk of reoffending.
Speaking after the sentence was handed down, WorkSafe ACT commissioner Greg Jones said it should be "a very strong warning" to all Canberrans, highlighting the need to make safety the number one priority at work or face very serious potential consequences.
He said WorkSafe ACT would be "pursuing with vigour" the charges against Watts' eight co-accused, including RAR Cranes, Multiplex and other workers.
Mr Jones said no worker should feel pressured to carry out work if they had not been properly trained or believed it to be unsafe. He said if they did not feel comfortable raising concerns with their superiors, they should speak directly to WorkSafe ACT or their union.
The construction union's ACT secretary, Jason O'Mara, said fatalities in the industry were unfortunately all too common, and that companies placing profits and timeframes before safety continued to be an issue.
Mr O'Mara said Watts, as a casual crane driver, had been "at the bottom of the food chain" on the hospital job site.
"Insecure work is a massive issue in our industry and it does seriously contribute to bad safety outcomes," he said.
"If a worker ever feels like they're being pressured into doing something unsafe, come and see your union. Come and talk to us. We've always got your back.
"There's a lot of pressure out there, but at the end of the day your responsibility is to do the right thing and the safe thing, and we'll do whatever we can to support you."