EnergyAustralia face the courts

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ENERGYAUSTRALIA Yallourn have fronted five charges for failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment.

EnergyAustralia Yallourn was charged after a fire broke out during maintenance works in a fuel distribution house in November 2021.

The charges are in relation to breaches of Section 21 (2) (e) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (to provide employees with the necessary supervision to perform hot works in a way that was safe and without risks to health).

WorkSafe is alleging that EnergyAustralia has also breached Section 21 (2) (a) four times, by the company for failing to provide or maintain safe systems of work, by failing to ensure continuous monitoring of fire risk during hot works, and failing to ensure a safety distance of 15 metres between flammable materials and the hot works area.

EnergyAutsralia Yallourn has published a public comment on the charges and legal proceedings.

“The alleged offences relate to a fire at the Coal Transfer Building at Yallourn, two years ago, on (November 11, 2021),” the power company said.

“No employees or contractors were harmed as a result of the incident, there was no risk to the neighbouring community and there was no disruption to power generation.

“EnergyAustralia fully cooperated with WorkSafe Victoria’s investigation of this incident. Following the incident, EnergyAustralia proactively made changes to its systems for fire management, including procedural changes and additional training for staff.”

EnergyAustralia said it took the charges seriously, “as the safety of our people, contractors and the Latrobe Valley community is of fundamental importance to us”.

“We work hard to make our operations as safe as they can be. For example, this year we have commenced a $400 million investment in Yallourn to ensure its safety and reliability until its planned closure in mid-2028.

“EnergyAustralia does not intend to comment further in response to the charges at this time.”

The matter was listed for a filing hearing at Latrobe Valley Magistrates’ Court yesterday (Tuesday, November 21).

EnergyAustralia Yallourn was previously found guilty of three charges of failing to provide a safe workplace for a highly experienced unit worker. Graeme Edwards was killed after suffering burns from an arc flash while performing routine maintenance on November 12, 2018.

The company was forced to pay a $1.5 million fine following the 54-year-old’s death.