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NT WorkSafe accepts enforceable undertakings after car festival fire

Spectators who sustained serious burn injuries at a car burnout competition in Alice Springs are unable to sue the event’s organisers or anyone else under Northern Territory laws.

At the Red CentreNATS car festival in 2017, fuel ignited from the back of a competition car and shot through a fence spraying onlookers.

The flames, which exceeded 400 degrees Celsius, injured 14 of the spectators.

One victim suffered horrific burns to 70 per cent of his face and limbs.

However, NT WorkSafe has decided not to prosecute the event’s organisers, but instead will accept enforceable undertakings from the two PCBUs, where they will spend a combined $1.2 million on safety initiatives.

Acting Executive Director of NT WorkSafe, Melissa Garde, said she requested an additional assessment of both enforceable undertakings after a lawyer representing 11 of the burn victims provided further information to her.

“That information and the views of the injured 11 have been considered; however prosecuting both companies would not provide the tangible benefits of making improvements to prevent further incidents from occurring at public and community events,” Ms Garde said.

“The question of compensation has been raised since this incident occurred.

“The work health and safety laws and sanctions available to the regulators are not the correct mechanism for resolving disputes around compensation.

“Enforceable undertakings and prosecutions were both sanctions under the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011, and the decision on which sanction to use was based on achieving the best health and safety outcomes for Territorians.

“Car Festivals have committed to spend more than $255,000 on activities that include providing safety equipment and building volunteer capacity with the aim of improving safety at NT motorsports events.

“NT Major Events will spend more than $944,000 on activities that will not only improve safety at organised public events, but also improve safety at community events by building the knowledge and capacity of the volunteers and organisations running them,” she said.

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