NT Council charged over near drowning of worker


Thursday, 01 September, 2022

NT Council charged over near drowning of worker

NT WorkSafe has charged the City of Palmerston with nine breaches of the Northern Territory’s Work Health and Safety Laws after a near-drowning incident involving one of its workers. On Thursday, 13 February 2020, two council workers were clearing and removing weeds from the lakes located in Durack. As part of their work, the workers took turns operating an amphibious weed harvester that was owned by the council. During that afternoon, the amphibious weed harvester tipped and capsized during operation, briefly trapping the operator under the craft. The worker managed to escape from the capsized craft, but was injured in the incident.

The City of Palmerston allegedly failed to follow all the manufacturer’s safety recommendations, which were provided during the purchase of the craft — namely that when the City of Palmerston modified the craft by installing a crocodile cage, it failed to first consult with the manufacturer on how this modification would affect the craft’s stability and safety during operation.

The City of Palmerston is facing six charges under the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 (the Act). Four of those charges are under Section 32, for failing to comply with its Primary duty of care (two charges), and its Health and Safety Duty for the management and control of fittings, fixtures or plant at a workplace (two charges). The City of Palmerston is also facing two charges under Section 33 of the Act for failing to comply with its Primary duty of care.

The City of Palmerston faces a further three charges under the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Regulations 2011 (the Regulations). This includes one charge under Section 39(2) of the Regulations for failing to provide information, training and instruction; one charge under section 42(1) of the Regulations for failing to provide first aid; and one charge under Section 43(1) of the Regulations for failing to prepare, maintain and implement an emergency plan.

If found guilty of all charges, the City of Palmerston faces a maximum combined penalty of $7,090,000.

Image credit: iStock.com/YinYang

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