Two government departments charged over 2016 death of worker

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Photo: Mdesigns, Pixabay

Charges have been laid against a police force and a government department for their alleged breach of duties resulting to a 2016 fatality.

The 54-year-old victim worked as a part-time cook and cleaner at a training reserve when she died of hypothermia after becoming trapped in a walk-in freezer.

SafeWork SA Executive Director Martyn Campbell said the government departments had shown conduct that constituted a criminal offence under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA).

The police department is the relevant person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), and the employer of the victim and the owner of the sire where she tragically lost her life.

The other department is also liable as a PCBU since it is responsible for managing the maintenance of the government site, as well as the equipment at the site.

“We remind all employers to be aware of plant and machinery used in their business and ensure it is risk assessed and regularly maintained,” said Director Campbell.

“It is critical that workplace hazards are identified, recorded and dealt with to ensure the likelihood of injury is eliminated or controlled to an acceptable level.

“We remind everyone that lives can actually depend on whether the employer meets its obligations for worker safety.

“Even seemingly simple things like regular maintenance or a “buddy system” so people do not work alone can make all the difference at a workplace.

“Every employer has a duty to ensure their workers return home safely after work.”

A summary of charges is available on SafeWork SA’s website.

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