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January 2020

Worker suffers burn injuries

WorkCover v Siva & Jeya Pty Ltd (2015)

Facts

Siva & Jeya Pty Ltd operated a restaurant that used bain-maries to keep food warm (the trays are heated with methylated spirits stored in a burner underneath). On 1 January 2011, the vapours of the methylated spirits ignited when a worker attempted to refill the burner, causing an explosion. This caused the worker’s clothes to catch alight, and she suffered burn injuries as a result.

Judgment

The Court found that no risk assessment had been undertaken, which would have resulted in a safe system of work being implemented. The Court convicted the company and its director for failing to ensure the worker had received proper information and instruction on how to safely refill the burner. It is yet to impose fines.

Lessons

Businesses need to ensure that plant, including equipment and machinery, that exposes workers to potential risks are properly assessed so that safe systems of work can be implemented.

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