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SA firm fined after apprentice set alight

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A South Australian electrical company that employed two supervisors who doused an apprentice in flammable liquid before setting his clothes on fire has been fined $15,000.

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Tad-Mar Electrical employee Luke Daniel Chenoweth had been supervising a worksite at Woodville when he and another leader, Jeffrey Mark Rowe, targeted the 19-year-old man in March 2017.

Chenoweth chased the man and squirted flammable liquid on him, igniting his shirt, while Rowe fuelled the flames by adding more liquid.

Their victim would have suffered second-degree burns if the shirt was left on his body for another 20 seconds.

The two men and their employer were prosecuted by SafeWork SA in the South Australian Employment Tribunal, where the company pleaded guilty to breaching workplace safety laws.

Handing down a penalty this week, magistrate Stuart Cole accepted Tad-Mar did not know about the incident at the time.

But he said there should have been better work health and safety systems in place to prevent such behaviour.

“The inadequacy of (Tad-Mar Electrical) workplace safety systems contributed to those co-offenders failing to understand their behaviour towards the victim was unacceptable,” he said.

“(Tad-Mar Electrical) has subsequently engaged in extensive remedial measures to bring its procedures and policies and training to a more adequate level.”

Cole said the company’s directors were remorseful and their swift decision to fire the supervisors reflected a view that the behaviour was “totally unacceptable”.

In sentencing, he took into account Tad-Mar Electrical’s self-report to SafeWork SA and its co-operation with the investigation.

The company was convicted and fined $15,000 after a 40 per cent discount because of its early guilty plea.

Earlier this year, Rowe was fined $12,000 and Chenoweth $21,000 – the largest workplace bullying penalty in South Australia.

At the time, SafeWork SA executive director Martyn Campbell said the fines sent a strong message that workplace bullying would not be tolerated.

“We all have children or somebody that we love, we send them to work and we expect them to be looked after and supervisors to have a responsibility to make sure that they’re safe,” he said. – AAP

 

 

 

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