Prosecutions

Ice-skating rink operator fined after carbon monoxide exposure

Kenneth Charles Jensen, the operator of the Winter Wonderland rink in Wodonga has been convicted and fined $50,000 (plus $3,752 costs) after patrons and visitors were exposed to unsafe levels of carbon monoxide. He was sentenced in the Wodonga Magistrates' Court last week on a charge of failing to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that the workplace and the means of entering and leaving it were safe and without risks to health.

On 9 June 2019, the rink had to be cleared after some patrons and visitors developed headaches and became nauseous. Two children, including one who twice lost consciousness, required oxygen treatment at hospital. 

A WorkSafe investigation found carbon monoxide emissions in the exhaust from an LPG powered ice resurfacing machine, that was regularly used to polish the rink, exceeded recommended levels. The machine was defective and had not been properly maintained or tuned to minimise the levels of carbon monoxide in the exhaust emissions.

There was also no monitoring of carbon monoxide levels being undertaken at the rink and tests found inadequate ventilation meant dangerous carbon monoxide levels inside spread through the building rather than dispersing. Source: WorkSafe media release

Construction company fined just $50k after worker crushed and killed

Civil construction company Multiworks Australia Pty Ltd has been fined just $50,000 following an incident in which a worker was killed when he was crushed while guiding machinery onto a truck in Mildura.

The company was sentenced in the Mildura County Court on 23 September after pleading guilty to a charge of failing, as far as was reasonably practicable, to provide a safe workplace.

On 24 October 2017, a truck driver suffered fatal chest injuries as he stood on the upper deck of the truck. A drum roller was being reversed onto the truck's lower deck, when it suddenly sped up and jumped onto the upper deck, crushing the worker.

A WorkSafe investigation found that the company had failed to prepare and implement a Safe Work Method Statement for high risk construction work that specifically addressed the loading and unloading of machinery.

The fine of $50,000 seems so inadequate, given a worker lost his life. Source: WorkSafe media release  

Care facility fined after resident leaves site and falls 

St Vincent's Care Services Ltd is the operator of an aged care facility in Werribee has been fined $25,000 after an 85 year old resident left the facility and was later found in a ditch on an empty block nearby (in September 2020 a construction company was fined over the same incident - see SN 550).

On the morning of 10 March 2018 the man exited the facility. CCTV footage of the car park in front of the reception area showed him walking along the footpath. Apart from the CCTV there was no physical record of him leaving. There was no follow up, by the operator or any of its employees, monitoring where the man was going or whether he had returned.

Later that morning the man's family arrived to visit him. He was not in his room and nowhere in the facility. The CCTV footage was checked - at about 11.00 am the man was found about 100-200 metres from the facility. The reason that he was not immediately seen in the searching of the car park was that he had fallen into an area that was being excavated by road builders. He was about 600mm below the general lie of the land and it was only the waving of a newspaper that caught a searcher’s attention. The resident was badly injured and was taken to hospital for treatment.

Hospital fined in bullying case

In a rare conviction on bullying, a Werribee hospital where a worker was subjected to 18 months of bullying by a senior staff member has been convicted and fined $60,000, plus $19,630 costs. 

Wyndham Clinic was sentenced in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court last week after pleading guilty to one charge of failing to provide and maintain, as far as was reasonably practicable, systems of work that were safe and without risks to health.

From September 2014 until she resigned in March 2016, the worker was bullied by Wyndham Clinic's Chief Executive Officer Peter Bailey. The behaviour included verbal abuse such as yelling and swearing, telling the worker to look for another job and that other people in the office did not like her.

A WorkSafe investigation found that Wyndham Clinic had neither policies and procedures to specifically address bullying, nor did it have a system in place to report bullying behaviour. The court heard the bullying and the clinic's failure to address it left the worker feeling hurt, humiliated, fearful and worthless.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Andrew Keen said bullying behaviour could have lasting impacts on workers and entire workplaces. "Workplace bullying can devastate individuals and their families and put whole workplaces under stress," Mr Keen said. "All workers deserve to go to work without fear of being bullied or harassed and all employers have a clear responsibility to protect workers from risks to their physical and mental health, including from this sort of abhorrent behaviour."
Read more: WorkSafe media release; Bullying 

To check for more Victorian prosecutions before the next edition, go to WorkSafe Victoria's Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings webpage.  

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