Prosecutions

STAFF EXPOSED TO MONTHS OF VIOLENCE AND AGGRESSION AT CARE FACILITY

Victorian Person Centred Services Ltd ('VPCS'), which provides residential care for vulnerable young people, pleaded guilty in relation to occupational violence perpetrated against staff in a care home in Moe.

The young person had a history of concerning behaviours including threatening and carrying out violence.

Staff were punched and kicked over a number of months. 'Triggers' documented in care plans the included 'ethnicity' and 'unfamiliarity with staff.' Company procedures discouraged staff from seeking refuge in the staff office where workers were sometimes forced to retreat from the young person's aggression.

VPCS pleaded guilty under section 21(1) and (2) of the OHS Act agreeing it was reasonably practicable to reduce the risk of injury to workers by providing and maintaining systems of work in which:

  1. did not discourage workers from taking refuge in the office when the child was engaging in threatening behaviours; and
  2. not rostering on staff who were at greater risk of assault because of their skin colour or unfamiliarity to the young person

VPCS pleaded guilty and was, without conviction, sentenced to pay a fine of $55,000.

Source: WorkSafe: Prosecution Result Summaries & Enforceable Undertakings

UNSAFE SYSTEM OF WORK RESULTS IN ACID EXPOSURE AT OIL REFINERY

Viva Energy operates an oil refinery in Geelong part of which produces alkylate for use in the manufacture of avgas and petrol. Hydrofluoric acid (HF acid) is a catalyst for the creation of alkylate and is hazardous and acutely toxic.

Employees were required to take a sample of the HF acid twice a week but were exposed when it leaked, flowing into lines within a sample cabinet. At the time each employee was only wearing A Class PPE, risking serious injury or death.

The offender failed to provide and maintain a system of work, so far as was reasonably practicable, in which employees wear a minimum of:

  1. Class B PPE whenever they worked on equipment which contained or may have contained HF acid
  2. Class C PPE whenever HF acid was allowed to flow through the lines connected to the sample cabinet while an employee was taking a sample

The offender previously had such a system of work in place on 7 February 2014, however by 14 September 2017 the offender reduced those PPE requirements.

Viva Energy also failed to notify WorkSafe in relation to the incident which necessitated an employee seeking treatment at the Geelong University Hospital for HF Acid exposure. Viva pleaded guilty and was convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of $100,000 for the acid exposure, $10,000 for failing to notify Work Safe and ordered to pay costs of $11,458.

Source: WorkSafe: Prosecution Result Summaries & Enforceable Undertakings

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