Cleanaway found guilty of failing to adequately train driver


Waste management company Cleanaway faces a potential $12 million fine after a SA court today ruled it failed to adequately train the driver involved in one of the worst crashes in the state’s history.

Thomas Spiess, 57, and Jacqueline Byrne, 41, died when the truck owned by Cleanaway Operations smashed into their cars at the bottom of the freeway down track in August 2014.

Truck driver Darren Hicks lost control of the vehicle and was seriously injured in the crash.

Hicks and Cleanaway were charged with criminal offences, but in 2017 the case against the company was dropped following the tendering of expert evidence.

Cleanaway successfully argued it had no knowledge the brakes were faulty because it outsourced maintenance to another company, Adelaide Heavy Diesel.

Cleanaway said it did not know the truck’s brakes were faulty because its maintenance company, Adelaide Heavy Diesel, had not made it aware of the problem.

Adelaide Heavy Diesel, however, filed court papers asserting it warned Cleanaway about the truck’s defects 25 days before the fatal crash, reports The Advertiser.

The company said it had recommended, to Cleanaway, the truck should “not be driven” until the brakes were serviced.

Comcare – the Federal agency overseeing workplace safety – then pressed on with a case of its own.

It accused Cleanaway of eight workplace standards breaches that, they alleged, related directly to the crash.

Hicks also had a charge of causing death by dangerous driving dropped when he flagged his intent to give evidence in the Federal case against Cleanaway.

During the trial, Hicks told the Adelaide Magistrates Court he had never driven a manual heavy vehicle or driven the steep downhill freeway track before the crash.

He told the court, he did a two-day course at the G&L Heavy Vehicle Training Centre to get his licence and started work at Cleanaway Operations six days before the incident.

Today, Magistrate Simon Smart found Cleanaway Operations guilty of eight counts of failing to comply with their health and safety duty.

The matter will return to court in May.

The highest penalty imposed, to date, upon a company following a Federal prosecution is $650,000 – also against Cleanaway, over a still explosion at Wingfield in 2017.

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