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VIC: hyperbaric company and director fined $726,750 over fatality

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of members. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Date: 
Tuesday, 17 August, 2021 - 12:30
Category: 
Incidents & prosecutions
Location: 
Victoria

A Victorian oxygen therapy provider and its clinical director have been convicted and fined a total of $726,750 after the death of a man following hyperbaric treatment at South Yarra in 2016.

Oxymed Pty Ltd and Malcolm Hooper were sentenced in the Melbourne County Court after each was earlier found guilty of two charges and pleaded guilty to a third charge of failing to ensure a workplace is safe and without risks to health.

Mr Hooper separately pleaded guilty to failing to notify WorkSafe of an incident and failing to preserve an incident scene.

The company was convicted and fined $550,000 while Mr Hooper was convicted and fined $176,750.

In April 2016, a long-term client of the company who suffered from extensive multiple sclerosis and had a history of epileptic seizures was found to be unconscious while receiving treatment in a single person hyperbaric chamber.

He was taken to hospital and placed on life support and died five days later.

The court heard Oxymed and Mr Hooper had an inadequate system in place for identifying and assessing the risks to each person receiving oxygen therapy treatment and developing a comprehensive plan to eliminate or reduce those risks.

There was also insufficient supervision of people receiving treatment and attendants were not recently instructed and trained in administering effective first aid.

The case was a tragic example of what can happen when employers don’t put safety first, said WorkSafe Victoria acting executive director health and safety Andrew Keen.

“If you are running a business in Victoria, you have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of not only your workers but also members of the public, including your customers,” Keen said.