NT WorkSafe charges local council over near drowning incident 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 of one it its workers.

On Thursday 13 February 2020, two council workers were clearing and removing weeds from the lakes located in the suburb of 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.

NT WorkSafe will allege that the City of Palmerston failed to follow all the manufacturer’s safety recommendations, which were provided during the purchase of the craft.

One of the recommendation not followed, was when the City of Palmerston modified the craft by installing a crocodile cage, without first consulting with the manufacturer on how this modification would affect the craft’s stability and safety during operation.

The City of Palmerston faces six charges under the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 (the Act):

  • Four charges under Section 32 of the Act for failing to comply with;
    • Primary duty of care (two charges); and
    • Health and Safety Duty for the management and control of fittings, fixtures or plant at a workplace (two changes).
  • Two charges under Section 33 of the Act for failing to comply with 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):

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

The matter is listed for the Darwin Local Court on Monday 29 August 2022.

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