Prosecutions

Fatality charges laid after union push.

WorkSafe revealed late last year it had launched proceedings against Energy Australia Yallourn Pty Ltd in relation to the death of a worker at the Yallourn power station in November 2018.

The 54-year-old worker sustained severe burns in an arc flash at the power station, before dying in hospital. He had just completed routine maintenance reinstalling a circuit breaker when an allegedly faulty protective panel allowed a cable to touch live components, causing the arc flash.

WorkSafe controversially announced in November 2020 that it wasn't charging Energy Australia over the fatality, a decision that was reversed following a review by the State Director of Public Prosecutions.

The review was requested by the vice president of the Mining and Energy Union's Victorian district, Mark Richards, who pushed for the case to be prosecuted. 

In a statement issued today, the union's Victorian secretary Geoff Dyke said it was important for workers to see Energy Australia being held to account over the fatality to restore their confidence in safety laws.

He also said the charges sent an important reminder to the employer to maintain safety standards as the Yallourn power station heads towards its scheduled closure in 2028.

Energy Australia's case is listed for a filing hearing at the Latrobe Valley Magistrates Court on 13 January 2022

RACV fined $475,000 after fatigue induced car collision

RACV has been convicted and fined $475,000 for failing to ensure its contractors were managing the risk of fatigue.

An employee of one of the RACV's roadside assistance service contractor companies, YJ Auto Repairs, was killed when he ran off the road and hit a tree at Healesville in March 2018. Evidence showed that he had fallen asleep at the wheel.

At the time of the accident, the worker had been on call for 89 hours and had been working for 17 hours straight.

The court heard that RACV did not require YJ Auto Repairs to provide fatigue safety training or have a safe systems of work in place to mitigate fatigue risks. The courts also heard it was routine for YJ Auto Repairs' workers to work 96-hour on-call shifts over four days and nights.

It found it was reasonably practicable for RACV to provide contractors with information on the risk of fatigue and suggest they implement policies and procedures to minimise associated risks.

This case was significant as it considered the extent of responsibility of duty holders for contractor fatigue management.

Company fined $10,000 over bullying behaviour

Harry Kim Pty Ltd was fined $10,000 after an injured employee was subjected to bullying and harassment from her employer.

After sustaining a back injury at work and taking time off in 2017, the employer sent a number of texts and make phone calls to the injured employee concerning her employment status. There were also a number of in person confrontations.

The behaviour was persistent and repeated over a period of two months, and included yelling at the employee, demanding to see records of workers compensation payments, threatening the employee, and turning up at her house unannounced and attempting to force open the door.

The bullying behavior exposed the employee to risks to her health and safety, namely anxiety and depression.

In breach of s21(1) & 2(a) of the OHS Act, Harry Kim did not have any or any adequate processes, policies or procedures to ensure that bullying behaviour did not occur, to regulate workplace behaviour or to provide a mechanism to assist employees to raise concerns.

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

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