Second fatality mars NBN rollout


news The National Broadband Network project has suffered what is believed to be its second fatality, with a contractor in the Blue Mountains town of Katoomba reported to have lost his life while working on NBN infrastructure on Friday.

On Friday the Blue Mountains Gazette reported that police were investigating a fatal accident in the popular Blue Mountains tourist destination, with a man believed to have suffered “head injuries” in what the newspaper called “an industrial accident”. Police had closed Katoomba’s Station Street as a result.

Following the report, the NBN company issued a statement noting that it had been advised of a “reported fatality” of a contractor working for one of the company’s delivery partners on the NBN network in Katoomba.

NBN chief executive Bill Morrow expressed his sadness at the news. “This is tragic news and we are doing all that we can to assist,” he said. “The thoughts of everyone at nbn are with the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased at this very sad time.”

The fatality is believed to be the second such incident to have occurred during the NBN rollout.

In May 2013, a similar incident occurred in the early NBN rollout zone of Kiama in the New South Wales South Coast.

At the time, a 57-year-old man was trapped between two trucks in the town and lost his life. A man was later charged with various offences, including negligent driving and driving with an illicit drug present in their blood.

The NBN is not the only project to have recently suffered fatalities with respect to the process of deploying telecommunications infrastructure in Australia.

For example, in February this year, it was reported that a Telstra worker had tragically died after falling off what is believed to be a mobile phone tower in the Adelaide River area.

Image credit: NBN company


  1. “driving with an illicit drug present in their drug”

    Should be body, I guess?

    Awful news. My thoughts go out to the family.

  2. Tragic.. No one should lose their lives on the job. Just hope no unreasonable targets led to this accident.

  3. On a side note. Renai , will you be writing something on the nbn missing its target of updating the “3 year construction plan” quarterly by 3 months.?

  4. My condolences to the family, friends and workmates of this person.

    Hopefully the pollies don’t make it a political football.

  5. “driving with an illicit drug present in their drug.”
    I didn’t know there was a law against that.
    The installation of all FTTN and Fixed Wireless must stop until this is thoroughly investigated which should be around the same time NBNco decides that we should not be replacing copper with copper.
    If the LNP was in opposition there would be a beatup about how so many lives have been lost on the NBN project like the pink batts deaths which amounted to a reduction in fatal injuries sustained per man hour worked.

    • Seriously. How low or ignorant are you to post this comment. Firstly read the article properly and quote what was written – “..present in their blood”. Is it sarcasm or ignorance regarding illicit drugs in the system. It’s illegal to have illicit drugs in your system – regardless. The primary contractors on all of these sites have Drug & Alcohol Policies designed to cover all of this. We are a smaller company and we have a D&A Policy to cover ourselves.

      Secondly don’t bring the political shortcomings of this project between FttP and FttN into this – shouldn’t even be mentioned as a response to someone who has lost their life. The drilling work that they were doing would have been needed regardless of copper or fibre cables being hauled through.

      Lastly, the NBN Rollout is nothing like the Pink Batts scheme. The Pink Batts scheme was unregulated and had that many fly-by-night companies established to capitalise on the incentives. This was made available to every house who wanted it. NBN/Telstra/Optus/any other Telco only install ducts when current capacity or network locations have short falls. The NBN Rollout has been issued through Tier One and Tier Two Companies who have to jump through that many HSE hoops to secure the work and remain compliant. How do I know – because I work for a company that has been building this network for the last 5 years. The Safety Systems and Safety Plans for our scope of works is detailed and updated regularly.

      The incident that happened in Katoomba is tragic and as a company that completes the same work we are urgently waiting for the official reports so that we can ensure our Systems are still covering what is needed. In 5 years there have been two deaths on NBN sites. Expand this to the telecommunications industry. This is one of the safest construction industries in Australia. There have been enough knee jerk reactions to this incident without any of the Political Parties chiming in. Let Workplace Health & Safety do their job and provide an unbias report.

      Please do not try and politicise a tragic incident whether intended or otherwise.

  6. Wonder if they’ll assault the government like they did when people died installing the pink batts. I guess not

  7. Sad news. Hopefully the company reviews what went wrong and makes sure it isn’t repeated elsewhere.

  8. Bet it was an ethnic on a work visa.
    Everyone doing nbn work is from an international labour hire agency or sham abn contractor these days.

  9. I was walking up Station street a few minutes after the police arrived on Friday, didn’t see the accident Police were taping up the street, there was a cable pulling machine a small ditch digger and a couple of small trucks present. A road sign guy with this crew always controlled traffic, the crew always kept pedestrians away from the work site. The work in this street had been going for a few weeks it’s appeared to be very slow progress a lot of guys and equipment for less than 100m of cable. I talked to the guys in this crew a number of times. They were not an “ethnic crew”.
    Today there were dozens of NBN big wheels/WorkCover guys looking over the excavations and the cable pulling and ditch digging machine, the trucks were gone.
    They have installed a brand new node box 120m as the crow flies or 250m by wire from my house, the techies said 3 months to connection to NBN, “an unofficial estimate”, they hoped to be at Springwood in 3 months. Power has been installed to all the boxes in Leura, tech wouldn’t give cutover time estimate, box was jam packed with wiring.

  10. Got heaps of photos of their equipment parked in Victoria St where they park equipment overnight. The cable pulling machine looked a little past it’s use-by date, or quite old. The ditch digger was brand new a really good piece of equipment. Have photos of a few node boxes in the Katoomba Leura area. The crew appeared to operate with a high degree of professionalism, with regard to safety.

    • hey Kevin,

      would you be able to send me any photos you have of the accident site (as well as any fibre to the node boxes in Katoomba)? I’d love to see the area. Happy to credit you etc on any photos I would use on Delimiter. My email address is

      Cheers, and thanks for the info!


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