Prosecutions

Youth justice workers seriously injured: $100k fine 

The Department of Justice and Community Safety has been fined a total of $100,000 (plus $16,207 costs) following two separate assaults on youth justice workers by children in detention in 2018.

A sentence hearing was held in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court last week after the department had earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of breaching s21(1) of the OHS Act. 

The department was convicted and fined $80,000 in relation to an incident at the Malmsbury Youth Justice Precinct in January 2018. In this incident a youth justice worker needed surgery for serious head and shoulder injuries and could not return to work for four months after she was struck with a guitar by a 16 or 17 year old youth in a courtyard of the centre's Deakin Unit. The youth had been known to be violent and use guitars as weapons. 

The department was separately convicted and fined $20,000 in relation to an incident at the Parkville Youth Justice Centre in December 2018, where a youth justice worker sustained serious facial burns and later developed post-traumatic stress disorder after having hot water thrown in his face and being punched and kicked by a child in a corridor of the centre's Park View Unit.

WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety Narelle Beer said both incidents could have been prevented. "It's not good enough for an employer to have workplace policies and procedures in place if their employees are not made aware of them or not properly instructed on how they should be applied," Dr Beer said.

Ms Karen Batt, Secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) said: "The fine is highly insufficient considering the trauma pain and suffering for the staff involved and the numerous previous warnings about safety failings."

She added, "Joining both safety breaches into a single prosecution and plea bargaining to have the joined cases remain in the lower court jurisdiction smells. The Department would have spent more on their legal fees defending their safety inadequacies than the sanction imposed."

Ms Batt said, "WorkSafe should be directly accountable to the Parliament and not to the Department it was ultimately prosecuting. Serious machinery of government change is necessary if the health and safety of public service workers is to be treated fairly and appear at least arm's length from the employers."
Read more: WorkSafe media release; Department fined $100,000 for failing to protect youth justice guards from attacks, The Age.

Charges laid over high pressure concrete blast

WorkSafe has charged two companies after workers and a member of the public were injured when they were sprayed with concrete at a Southbank construction site.

Form 700 Pty Ltd has been charged with two breaches under section 21(1) of the OHS Act for failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment.

It is alleged the company breached regulation 327(1) of the OHS Regulations by failing to prepare and use a Safe Work Method Statement for high risk construction work, and section 21(2)(e) of the OHS Act by failing to provide information and instruction to its employees to enable them to perform work safely.

WorkSafe has also charged Rapidcrete Pty Ltd with a single breach of section 23(1) of the OHS Act for failing to ensure that persons other than its employees were not exposed to risks to their health or safety. 

The charges relate to an incident in October 2019 where an unsecured discharge pipe blew out of an agitator truck and pressurised concrete was sprayed across the work site, striking three workers and a passenger in a passing vehicle.

Form 700 Pty Ltd had been engaged to provide formwork and concrete at the site while Rapidcrete Pty Ltd was engaged to pump concrete.

The matters are listed for a filing hearing at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on 10 November 2021.

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