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Ice-skating rink operator fined $50,000 over carbon monoxide exposure

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Date: 
Wednesday, 13 October, 2021 - 15:30
Category: 
Incidents & prosecutions
Location: 
Victoria

The operator of an ice-skating rink in Wodonga Victoria has been convicted and fined $50,000 after patrons and visitors were exposed to unsafe levels of carbon monoxide.

Kenneth Charles Jensen, who operated the Winter Wonderland rink, was sentenced in the Wodonga Magistrates’ Court on a charge of failing to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that the workplace and the means of entering and leaving it were safe and without risks to health.

Jensen was also ordered to pay costs of $3,752.

On 9 June 2019, the rink had to be cleared after some patrons and visitors developed headaches and became nauseous.

The court heard two children, including one who twice lost consciousness, required oxygen treatment at hospital.

A WorkSafe Victoria investigation found carbon monoxide emissions in the exhaust from an LPG powered ice resurfacing machine, that was regularly used to polish the rink, exceeded recommended levels.

The court heard the machine was defective and had not been properly maintained or tuned to minimise the levels of carbon monoxide in the exhaust emissions.

There was also no monitoring of carbon monoxide levels being undertaken at the rink and tests found inadequate ventilation meant dangerous carbon monoxide levels inside spread through the building rather than dispersing.

WorkSafe Victoria executive director of health and safety Andrew Keen said it was good luck rather than good management that the patrons and visitors at the rink did not sustain more significant injuries.

“Carbon monoxide affects the body’s ability to carry oxygen to organs and can be a silent killer,” he said.

“Because the gas is colourless, odourless and tasteless, it is extremely difficult to identify dangerous levels without suitable detectors.”