Family “outraged” over decision not to prosecute workplace death

Family “outraged” over decision not to prosecute workplace death

The family of a worker fatally burned in a workplace incident at the Yallourn Power Station in 2018 say they’re “outraged” by the decision of the state’s workplace safety regulator not to prosecute over his death.

Graeme Edwards, 54, was performing routine maintenance at the plant in November of 2018 when he was critically burnt in an electrical short circuit.

Internal investigations by Energy Australia, who owns the plant, found that Mr Edwards was completing his work exactly as determined and the source of the power was not properly barricaded to protect workers at the site.

Two years after his death, WorkSafe Victoria has announced the investigation had concluded and it had decided not to lay charges against Energy Australia, which has understandably caused upset for Mr Edwards’ family.

In a statement, they said they didn’t understand WorkSafe’s decision not to prosecute what they saw as a “very easily avoidable workplace incident”, and that it was “outrageous and entirely unacceptable”.

“Energy Australia representatives have both publicly and privately stated that the protection provided to the operations team at Yallourn Power Station was insufficient,” the family said.

“We view this as a failing on WorkSafe’s part to perform the role that they are obligated to for all Victorians.”

The CFMEU said the announcement was a blow to “workers’ confidence in workplace safety laws,” and has requested that the Director of Public Prosecution review the decision of the safety regulator.

“It’s concerning that WorkSafe hasn’t chosen to prosecute a failing under the [Occupational] Health and Safety Act of an employer to maintain a safe workplace,” CFMEU Victorian mining and energy sectary Geoff Dyke said.

“We think that for Graeme’s family and for the safety of other workers, there has to be some sort of repercussions to not maintaining a safe workplace and killing a worker.”

WorkSafe said it would “not provide further comment on this matter while avenues for review remain open”.

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