Prosecutions

Victoria: Large food manufacturer enters into $1m Enforceable Undertaking

George Weston Foods Limited (GWF), a large scale food manufacturer, produces Don and KR Castlemaine smallgoods and smoked meats at its workplace in Castlemaine. The workplace had a Sealed Air Cryovac BL75 bagger (Cryovac), used to seal products in shrink-wrap. It was approximately 4 metres long, 1.8 metres high and 800 millimetres wide, and weighed approximately 1400kg.

On the weekend of 3-4 June 2017, the Cryovac was removed from the processing area and placed on the concrete area outside the P7 maintenance building. A job-safety analysis (JSA) and work-permit arrangement had been undertaken to transport the Cryovac out of the processing area, but did not include the task of moving the Cryovac into the P7 shed.

On Tuesday 6 June 2017, steel skates were placed onto each end of the Cryovac and used by GWF employees to move the heavy machine around. The machine was to be pushed 10 to 15 metres before turning it towards a roller door and up a ramp, where it tipped over and fell on the worker. He suffered serious injuries as result, including injuries to his neck, back, lungs, skull, brain, eye and shoulder.

WorkSafe accepted an Enforceable Undertaking, in lieu of prosecution, lasting 24 months with a total cost to GWF of $1,000,000.

To find out whether there are any new prosecutions before next week, check WorkSafe Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings webpage.

Queensland: Dreamworld owner charged over four fatalities

Dreamworld theme park owner Ardent Leisure Ltd has been charged with three category-2 breaches of its WHS duty to "other persons", after the park's 30-year failure to identify and control risks on its Thunder River Rapids Ride (TRRR) resulted in the October 2016 deaths of four patrons. Even though this tragedy was one of the two which led to Queensland including industrial manslaughter provisions in its WHS Act, no individual involved has been prosecuted. The independent Work Health and Safety prosecutor, Aaron Guilfoyle, said he does not intend to lay any further charges. This follows Queensland Police having last year recommended that no Dreamworld employees should face criminal charges.

The three charges relate to Ardent's alleged failure to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of persons other than workers was not put at risk from work carried out as part of the conduct of its business by:

  • providing and maintaining safe plant and structures;
  • providing and maintaining safety systems of work; and 
  • providing the information, training, instruction and supervision that was necessary to protect all persons from safety risks arising from the Dreamworld undertaking.

Ardent could be fined a total of up to $4.5 million, with each charge carrying a maximum penalty of $1.5 million. 

Patrons Kate Louise Goodchild, 32, her brother Luke Johnathan Dorsett, 35, Dorsett's partner Roozbeh Araghi, 38, and Cindy Toni Low, 42, were travelling in a raft on the TRRR watercourse ride when it collided with an unoccupied stranded raft and got pulled vertically into a conveyor mechanism.  They all died from severe internal and external crush injures.

In the coronial inquiry held in February this year, the coroner, James McDougal concluded that the theme park relied on "frighteningly unsophisticated" safety systems and failed to learn from previous potentially serious incidents on the TRRR.  The ride, which was one of the park’s most popular, had not had a proper risk assessment in its 30 years of operation.

The company issued a statement yesterday morning, in which it informed the ASX of the three charges and expressed its "deepest sympathies" to the families of the killed patrons. "There has been considerable change at Dreamworld over the last few years as was acknowledged by the Coroner in his report," the company claimed, adding "Dreamworld has taken substantive and proactive steps to improve safety across the entire park and continues to enhance existing systems and practices, as well as adopt new ones, as we develop and implement our safety case in accordance with the Queensland Government's new major amusement park safety regulations."

The reality is that the company demonstrated no commitment to the health and safety of staff or patrons, and it took the tragic death of four people for it to take actions it should have to comply with its duties under the law.
Sources: OHSAlert; SafetyAtWork blog; Australasian Leisure Management

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