$1.2M FINE FOR RECKLESSNESS IN FILTHY WORKPLACE

Orica has been fined $1.2 million for reckless conduct after a worker was exposed to a ‘filthy’ workplace environment 'year after year'. In late 2019, tests on the injured worker revealed elevated cobalt levels in his bloodstream, resulting in a diagnosis of occupational asthma.

Orica failed to address a defective ventilation system in the cobalt shed where the worker was employed, despite being aware of the issue for years. The company also neglected to act on repeated air and biological testing that indicated the worker was being exposed to dangerous levels of cobalt dust.

The company did not respond to findings of excessive dust levels in the air nor monitor the workers' health. ‘This is a serious instance of an offender being reckless as to the risk to an individual of death or serious injury. It is a sorry chapter in Orica's history.’

‘Not only did it foresee the risk of injury, but it had evidence in its hands that there was not just the possibility of a risk, but that the risk was actually present day after day, year after year.’ stated the NSW District Court Judge.

‘There were numerous red flags available to Orica... yet no action was taken,’ the judge added. Orica pleaded guilty to breaching workplace health and safety laws by exposing workers to the risk of death or serious injury.

Investigations revealed cobalt dust covering surfaces and inadequate facilities for cleaning and storing PPE. Despite being aware of the risks, Orica failed to take action.

Highlighting the severity of the company's reckless behaviour and delayed guilty plea, the judge imposed a $1.2 million fine.

You can review the judgment here.

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