Latrobe Valley: EnergyAustralia will plead guilty to charges over the death of Graeme Edwards

Latrobe Valley Express reports EnergyAustralia will plead guilty to charges laid by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) over the death of Yallourn power station worker Graeme Edwards.

Graeme, 54 died when he was badly burnt in an electrical short circuit while performing routine maintenance at the plant in November 2018.

An investigation by Energy Australia subsequently cleared Mr Edwards of any responsibility for what happened. On the two-year anniversary of his death, WorkSafe announced it had investigated and decided not to lay charges.

Graeme’s family said in a statement at the time they could not comprehend WorkSafe's decision not to prosecute in relation to the "very easily avoidable workplace incident", and that it was "outrageous and entirely unacceptable".

The CFMMEU subsequently asked the DPP to review WorkSafe's decision.

It was reported yesterday EnergyAustralia intends pleading guilty to breaches of the OHS Act at the Latrobe Valley Magistrates Court, June 3, after the DPP review, and CFMMEU pressure, resulted in WorkSafe laying three charges, December last year.

Dandenong: Absence of interlock system results in horrific injury and $20,000 fine
The offender operated a business manufacturing die casting moulds for motor vehicles in Dandenong. The company is currently being voluntarily wound up.

Located at the workplace were numerous items of plant including the Makino Milling Machine ('machine'). The machine was used on a daily basis by one employee ('the IP') and occasionally by the Director. It was common practice at the workplace for persons using the machine to go inside the operational area of the machine to see whether it was cutting correctly. There was a front access door to the machine which had an interlock system that prevented the machine's spindle from rotating while the front door was not in the fully closed position but the operator’s door was not fitted with a similar interlock.

On 27 October 2015 a WorkSafe inspector attended the workplace in relation to another matter and while there evaluated the machine guarding on machines at the workplace. The inspector discussed with the Director the need to have interlocking systems on doors of machines, with no specific reference to the machine in this matter.

On 28 September 2020 an incident occurred at the workplace when the IP went into the operational area of the machine and became entangled in the rotating spindle. The IP sustained serious injuries including a collapsed throat, punctured lungs, broken ribs and sternum, liver laceration level 5, burns across the entire right side of his body and lower belly and a right shoulder tear and dislocation.

The offender failed to provide or maintain plant that was, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health in that it failed to ensure that the machine was fitted with an interlocking system that prevented access to the moving parts of the machine by preventing the operator’s door from being opened while the spindle was in operation; and preventing the spindle from being activated when the operator's door was not in the fully closed position (Charge 1).

The offender pleaded guilty and was with conviction sentenced to pay a fine of $20,000.00 and to pay costs of $2,509.00.

Source: WorkSafe Victoria: Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings

SA: WHS regulator lays fatality charge against Inghams
Poultry supplier Inghams Enterprises has been charged with breaching section 32 ("Failure to comply with health and safety duty–Category 2") of the South Australian Work Health and Safety Act 2012, after a worker was fatally struck by a reversing truck and trailer.

The incident occurred in the receiving yard of Inghams' Burton factory in May 2021.

SafeWork SA alleged the employer failed to maintain, so far as was reasonably practicable, a safe work environment by failing to adequately manage the risks associated with interactions between pedestrians and mobile plant.

Source: OHSAlert Wednesday, 18 May 2022


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