South Australia’s workplace health and safety regulator has accepted an Enforceable Undertaking from a government department following an incident in October 2016 where a police employee died after becoming trapped in a walk-in freezer.
Under the terms of the Enforceable Undertaking, the government department will conduct a review of its facilities and train approximately 250 Facilities Management Operators. This will ensure all government agencies meet their risk and safety obligations.
SafeWork SA Executive Director, Martyn Campbell, said they decided to accept an Enforceable Undertaking as it ensures money is directed toward improving worker safety rather than defending themselves in court.
“The acceptance of an Enforceable Undertaking in a fatality prosecution is not common but in this case justified. As the Regulator, I wanted to ensure there was a long term and sustainable improvement to workplace and worker safety across Government. This is much more satisfactory than another pecuniary fine,” he said.
“I would never accept an Enforceable Undertaking as the only outcome of a fatality prosecution, however, in this case, we faced two entities involved in this tragedy. SA Police had the primary duty of care for Ms. Summers’ safety and fully cooperated with the investigation at every stage and accepted liability at the earliest opportunity.
“The Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure were able to offer an undertaking to make significant changes to their processes to improve the safety of all South Australian government workers and visitors to government facilities.”
The total minimum expenditure by the department under the Enforceable Undertaking is projected to be just under $700,000, according to SafeWork SA.