WorkSafe accuses Victorian Health Department of alleged violations of hotel quarantine program

The Victoria Department of Health has been indicted for last year’s errors in quarantining hotels that led to the state’s second deadly wave of COVID-19.

WorkSafe has charged the Department of Health with 58 violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, alleging that the department failed to provide a safe workplace for its employees and failed to ensure that people are not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

Hotel workers inside Stamford Plaza, one of the quarantine hotels that became the site of an outbreak last year.Credit: Getty Images

Set up to prevent transmission of COVID-19 from overseas arrivals to the community, the department’s hotel quarantine program last year did the opposite, with an investigation into the failing system linking 783 deaths during from the second wave of the state to hotels.

In a statement on Wednesday, WorkSafe alleged that the department failed to appoint people with expertise in infection prevention and control in hotels, failed to provide security officers with proper training in infection control and had not provided, at least initially, written instructions on how to use protective equipment.

The department also hasn’t updated written instructions on how to wear masks at several hotels, WorkSafe said.

In all charges, the health and safety regulator said the ministry’s own employees, authorized government agents and security guards are at risk of contracting COVID-19 and contracting serious illness or disease. dead.

The maximum penalty for each charge is $ 1.64 million, or $ 95.12 million in total.

According to the regulator’s statement, 17 of the charges are violations of section 21 of the law, failing to provide and maintain, to the extent possible, a safe working environment and no risk to the health of its employees.

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