A construction company has been charged over the deaths of two workers in Victoria.

Ballarat company Pipecon Pty Ltd has been charged by WorkSafe Victoria following the death of two workers after a trench collapsed in Ballarat in March 2018.

The men were laying pipe at the Winterfield Estate housing development in the Ballarat suburb of Delacombe on March 21 when the trench collapsed.

The trench that the two men were working in gave way, killing one instantly and trapping the other.

Heavy machinery was brought in to widen the trench to free 21-year-old Jack Brownlee, who was buried from the waist down in the five-metre-deep trench.

Mr Brownlee was taken to hospital where he underwent four surgeries but died the following morning.

Following a comprehensive investigation by WorkSafe, Ballarat company Pipecon Pty Ltd was charged with two breaches of section 21of the Occupational Health and Safety Act:

  • Failing to maintain battering or benching of the excavation and to use trench shields and manhole cages to protect the workers from the risk of engulfment
  • Failing to provide supervision to ensure its employees did not perform work in the trench without battering, benching, trench shields or manhole cages

The matter is listed for a filing hearing at the Ballarat Magistrates’ Court on 4 February 2019.