Jail time for Gippsland employer

Monday 4 February 2019
Genna Angelowitsch

A woman from South Gippsland has become the first person in Victoria imprisoned under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

In February 2017, Robbie Blake was working at the Recycling Emporium in Foster. He was removing steel from inside a large bin when the bin was raised by a forklift. The bottom of the bin gave way and he fell approximately three metres, and was struck by the steel he had been removing from the bin. He died of the injuries he sustained, aged in his 50s.

The owner of the Recycling Emporium, Maria Jackson, was operating the forklift but did not have a forklift licence at the time of the incident. She was charged by Worksafe with failing to comply with her duty not to expose other people to risk of injury or death, and recklessly engaging in conduct that placed others in danger of serious injury.

Ms Jackson plead guilty and has been sentenced to six months imprisonment and a fine of $10,000. It is understood that she commenced serving her term of imprisonment in late January 2019.

The power to seek a term of imprisonment has been a part of the Occupational Health and Safety Act since it’s implementation in December 2004, however, most recent prosecutions have been against the businesses rather than individual directors or owners.

Every employee has the right to work in a safe environment. Although the number of workplace deaths has decreased in the past twelve months, it is essential that every employer takes their obligation to minimise risk seriously.

It is hoped that Ms Jackson’s term of imprisonment will serve as a deterrent for other employers who may otherwise chose to be cavalier with their workers’ safety.

If you have been injured at work, or you are a dependant of a deceased worker contact Adviceline Injury Lawyers on (03) 9321 9988 to discuss your rights.

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