The Victorian Department of Education and Training has been charged following an incident that led to the death of a seven-year-old boy, showing that no one is exempt from health and safety laws.
WorkSafe has filed three charges against the state’s Department of Education and Training in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court for alleged health and safety breaches.
It said in a statement last week that the department failed to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons other than employees are not exposed to risks to their health or safety.
The charges relate to an incident in which a student in a wheelchair tipped over at the base of a ramp at Warringa Park School at Hoppers Crossing on 26 November 2018.
The seven-year-old boy suffered a head injury and died four days later.
WorkSafe alleged that the department “failed to maintain the ramp, document supervision and mobility requirements of its students, and appropriately train its teachers in documented supervision of its students”.
The matter is due to appear in court on 10 February.
Early last year, Safe Work Australia undertook a review of Australia’s occupational health and safety laws and found that while the laws are broadly working as designed, tougher penalties for non-compliance needed to be introduced.
“The model WHS laws are largely operating as intended, but I am recommending some changes to provide clarity and to drive greater consistency in the application and enforcement of the laws across jurisdictions,” Marie Boland, the independent reviewer and author of the final report, said at the time of the review’s public unveiling.