NEGLIGENT EMPLOYER LIABLE FOR $1.25M INJURY SUSTAINED IN ASSAULT OUTSIDE OF WORK
An employer has been deemed liable for the psychological injury sustained by a worker who was attacked, on her way to work after the employer failed to act on its knowledge of the immediate risk posed by the perpetrator.
Victorian Supreme Court Justice hearing the case highlighted that despite being aware the worker had been threatened multiple times by the suspected assailant, the employer made no attempt to follow its own policies and re-assign the high-risk case to another staff member.
"It is most likely that if the file had been re-allocated at any time before the intensification of events in and following January 2013, [the worker] would not have been attacked."
The Court heard in 2010, the worker was promoted by her employer, Nexus Primary Health, from receptionist to family outreach worker, and placed on a 12-month plan involving training, supervision and mentoring, due to her limited qualifications and experience.
Her role required her to support victims of family violence, which included going to their houses and attending court cases.
One particular client, who the worker began helping in 2010, was identified as being "high risk" due to the threats and serious assaults perpetrated by the client's husband.
The worker said the incident "destroyed" her life. She has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and is currently unable to work.
Source: OHS Alert, 14 October 2022 Bell v Nexus Primary Health  VSC 605 (13 October 2022)
SOLAR INSTALLATION ON UNGUARDED ROOF ATTRACTS 20K FINE
Zenith Solar, a solar panel installation business was engaged at a residential premises in Herne Hill on 14 October 2021, when a WorkSafe Inspector observed installation works being undertaken on a single storey pitched roof of approximately 2.5 metres in height with no fall protection in place.
Under section 120(1) of the Act, the Inspector directed that the work cease as he reasonably believed there was an immediate risk to their health and safety. The workers complied with the Inspector's direction and made their way to the ground.
The Inspector was informed a perimeter guard rail set of 4.5 metres was available however the system would not adequately guard the work area or provide a safe means of access and egress to and from the roof.
A Safe Work Method Statement was provided to the Inspector, which stipulated that edge protection was to be used for work performed at heights above two metres.
The Inspector issued an improvement notice to the offender requiring it to provide a safe system of work for solar installation works by controlling the risk of an employee falling more than two metres.
On 19 October 2021, the Inspector re-attended the workplace and observed that a perimeter guard rail system had been installed to the immediate work area. The Inspector deemed the improvement notice to have been complied with.
The offender pleaded guilty and was without conviction sentenced to pay a fine of $20,000.00 and to pay costs of $3,756.00.
Source: WorkSafe Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings