Cleanaway cops Comcare charges over SE Freeway crash

By: Rob McKay

Adelaide fatalities give health and safety regulator new chance to bite firm

Cleanaway cops Comcare charges over SE Freeway crash
Comcare has more charges against Cleanaway, this time in Adelaide


Waste management firm Cleanaway is facing Comcare legal proceedings related to a fatal truck crash on Adelaide’s South Eastern Freeway almost exactly two years ago.

Then known as Transpacific Industries, the company undertook a fleet grounding and review in an effort estimated to cost it about $20 million, after an ageing rigid sewage tanker lost control on the long descent.

The loaded tanker collided with three cars at the Cross Road intersection, killing two people and seriously injuring two others including the truck driver.

Now, Comcare has filed a complaint and summons in the Magistrates Court of South Australia alleging Cleanaway Operations breached the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act eight times in relation to the collision.

"Comcare alleges Cleanaway failed to provide adequate training and supervision to the truck’s inexperienced driver," it says.

"This included instruction on safely negotiating the freeway’s steep descent from the Adelaide Hills, using arrester beds and driving a heavy vehicle with a manual gearbox."

"It is also alleged Cleanaway did not maintain a safe system of work to ensure driver competency."

The matter will be heard a date to be set.

"Cleanaway acknowledges the decision by Comcare to initiate legal proceedings in the Magistrates Court of South Australia, and we are considering our position in relation to the charges," marketing and communications head Alison Chalmer says.

"It is not appropriate to comment further at this stage."

Each of the charges carries a maximum penalty of $1.5 million.

If a guilty finding is passed down on all counts and the penalty follows a previous Comcare case in Perth, the cost could dwarf what was last year said to be a record fine.

 In that case, lawyers put the fine at about 75 per cent on the court’s unofficial scale of seriousness, raising the possibility of a seven-figure payout here.

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