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Corrective Services fined $285,000 over Mr Ward death

Issue Date: Friday, 8 July 2011

The State of Western Australia (Department of Corrective Services) has been fined $285,000 over the death of Mr Ward in 2008.

The Department of Corrective Services pleaded guilty in May to failing to ensure that persons who were not employees were not exposed to hazards and, by that failure, causing the death of Mr Ward, and was fined in the Kalgoorlie Magistrates Court yesterday.

The Department had control over the workplace (the van in which Mr Ward died), and it was alleged that the Department failed to install a temperature monitor in the rear of the van.

In addition, it was alleged that the Department did not ensure that the contractor (G4S Custodial Services Pty Ltd) had safe systems of work in place for the transportation of persons in custody.

Aboriginal elder Mr Ward, 46, died from heatstroke in January 2008 after being transported from Laverton to Kalgoorlie in the back of a van in which the air conditioning was either faulty or not working.

At the time of the incident, WorkSafe considered that a police investigation was more appropriate than a WorkSafe investigation because the charges and penalties available under their legislation were stronger and more appropriate.

When criminal charges could not be laid, it was decided that WorkSafe inspectors would investigate the incident to determine whether the Occupational Safety and Health Act had been breached.

Charges were laid in January against the Department, the contractor and the two drivers of the van.

WorkSafe Director Joe Attard said today the death of Mr Ward was a tragic example of the potential consequences of not having safe systems of work in place at all times.

“It also illustrates how the State’s occupational safety and health laws place a duty of care on a number of parties in a workplace to ensure the safety of everyone who has a reason to be in that workplace,” Mr Attard said.

”Hopefully, the amount of exposure this case has had will ensure that a tragic event like this never takes place again.”

The remaining three cases related to the death of Mr Ward are still before the courts.