Victorian company fined $50,000 after explosion
WorkSafe Victoria v Lance Darren Robertson (2015)
On 26 March 2013 an explosion occurred at a mushroom-growing business while a room was being sterilised. The mushroom-growing process required sterilisation of the growing room through a process known as a ‘burn-out’. This involved heating the room for a period of time using an LP gas-powered direct-fired air heater. The contracted worker suffered serious burns as a result of the explosion.
An investigation found that the gas heater used was unsuitable for the following reasons:
- a safety sensor had been removed;
- an unsuitable supply hose and clamp were fitted; and
- the heater had not been maintained or serviced.
The Court found there was a failure to identify:
- the potential for an explosive atmosphere;
- hazards introduced through modifications to equipment; or
- hazards created through a lack of equipment maintenance.
The business was fined $50,000 plus $15,106 in court costs.
Businesses need to ensure that safe work procedures are put in place to identify and remove hazards.
Take the following steps to avoid a similar incident occurring in your workplace:
- identify all potentially hazardous situations;
- provide adequate instruction and training to workers;
- ensure that plant and equipment are adequately maintained; and
- avoid making modifications to plant and equipment.
Please note: Case law is reported as correct and current at time of publishing. Be aware that cases in lower courts may be appealed and decisions subsequently overturned.
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