Prosecutions

There has not been an update to WorkSafe Victoria's Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings webpage since our last edition. However, go to it to check for further prosecutions before next week's SafetyNet. 

QLD: Dreamworld receives record fine for 2016 fatalities

This week the operator of the Dreamworld theme park in Queensland received an Australian record-high workplace health and safety fine of $3.6 million, after its "frighteningly unsophisticated" safety systems resulted in the deaths of four patrons in October 2016.

Ardent Leisure Ltd had pleaded guilty to three contraventions of the Queensland Work Health and Safety Act 2011- each contravention carried a maximum fine of $1.5 million. The charges related to the deaths of Kate Louise Goodchild, 32, her brother Luke Johnathan Dorsett, 35, Dorsett's partner Roozbeh Araghi, 38, and Cindy Toni Low, 42. The group were travelling in a raft on Dreamworld's Thunder River Rapids Ride (TRRR) when it collided with an unoccupied stranded raft and got pulled vertically into a conveyor mechanism. They all died from severe crush injures.

After a coronial inquiry, Coroner James McDougal said, "It can be concluded beyond doubt that in the 30 years prior to this tragedy, Dreamworld failed to undertake, either internally or via an external auditor, a holistic examination of the TRRR by a suitably qualified engineer, so as to ensure its safe operation through the identification of the high and low probability risks and hazards present."

In her sentencing remarks, Southport Magistrate Pamela Dowse said that Ardent's efforts to implement control measures and improve Dreamworld's safety over time "were grossly below the standard that was rightly expected of it". She said, "A variety of control measures were available to it, which would have minimised or eliminated the relevant risk." Source: OHSAlert

NSW: Former Vic paper mill fined over $1m after two workers killed

A former Victorian paper mill operator, Norske Skog Paper Mills (Australia) Ltd, has been fined more than $1 million following the deaths of two employees at its Ettamogah site.

The two workers died of exposure to hydrogen sulphide following a gas leak at the paper mill in May 2018, during routine maintenance in a scheduled shutdown period. The court heard that one of the workers was killed while trying to rescue his colleague, who had been sent to the top of a tank to check for a possible leak. There he was exposed to an unknown quantity of the gas and rendered unconscious. The incident also seriously injured another worker who had also tried to help, and hospitalised 14 others.   

Norske Skog was fined $1,012,500, a NSW record, and ordered to create a video for industry education purposes.  The company received a 25 per cent discount to the original $1.35m fine (of a maximum fine of $1.5m) following an early guilty plea in September last year to workplace health and safety breaches.

NSW District Court Judge David Russell said Norske Skog's level of culpability was in the high range of seriousness and that the injuries and emotional harm as a consequence of the incident, were substantial.

Branch official Dave Henry, from the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union, said no level of compensation would amount to the lives that were lost. The union is calling for the adoption of nationally consistent industrial manslaughter laws. Sources: Nine news; OHSAlert

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