News 31 January 2019

First director jailed for reckless behaviour

A company owner will spend six months in jail, after accepting her sentence for recklessly endangering and killing an employee.

As reported by OHS Alert (Jan 15), Maria Jackson was fined $10,000 and sentenced to six months' jail after pleading guilty to breaching sections 24 ("Duties of self-employed persons to other persons") and 32 ("Duty not to recklessly endanger persons at workplaces") of the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.

This appears to be the first time an individual has received a non-suspended custodial sentence for a breach of duty under an Australian work health and safety law.

In February 2017, an employee of Jackson's scrap metal business in Foster was standing in a bin on the tines of a forklift being driven by Jackson when he fell through the bottom of the bin, before the bin and its load of steel fell on him, causing fatal head injuries.

The bin was in very poor condition and Jackson had never held a forklift licence.

Such an horrible incident is a stark and jarring reminder that those who manage and control organisations need to do so in way that not only protects employees, contractors and others from incident and injury at work, but also proactively identifies the hazards, processes and behaviours that have the potential to cause injury and illness, including anticipating risk taking behaviours and when they are likely to occur.

This type of behaviour seems to indicate a complete ignorance and disregard of these responsibilities and, many would say, a complete lack of common-sense.

In fact this case clearly demonstrates the nonexistence of common sense as means to ensure people safety, and the complete failure of this person to consider the catastrophic consequences of her workplace actions.

Those responsible for organisations need to design, manage, control and maintain them in a way that protects people. This means, amongst other things, that employers need to anticipate human behaviour and human error occurring in workplaces and then change workplaces so human decisions to take risks are removed or reduced as much as practicable.

Most organisations do not behave this way, but many do not fully understand the consequences of assuming their employees, contractors and visitors know how to work in a safe manner and will act to protect themselves at work.

The Victorian Chamber’s Health Safety and Wellbeing team are highly qualified and experienced in reviewing, preparing and improving your workplaces so they are more capable of eliminating or minimising the opportunities for risk-taking decisions and behaviours to occur.

For more information on the HSW support we can provide your business with, please contact us on 03 8662 5333 or hsw@victorianchamber.com.au to discuss your needs.

Media Contact

All media enquiries may be directed to the Media and Communications Manager

03 8662 5310

0423 883 945

media@victorianchamber.com.au

For all other enquiries please contact the Victorian Chamber on 03 8662 5333

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