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Public Liability or Workplace Health and Safety

by Dave Collins on December 17, 2016



There has always been a confusing cross over between Statute Law requirements of Occupational Health and Safety and Common Law Duty of Care requirements in regards to Public Liability.

A recent posting on Safety At Work Blog, titled “The intersection of OHS and public liability becomes more urgent” talks about a case in mid-November 2010, where a gymnasium in North Queensland was fined  following the death of a 19-year-old Michelle Maitland. She allegedly fell from a matted area onto a painted concrete floor.

The case was complicated by allegations of the claimant being affected by drugs and alcohol. The gym was issued with a prohibition notice and installed a substantial mat but reportedly the Gym never never complied with requests for copies of a national handbook the gym claimed they used to determine the set-up of gymnastic apparatus and mat sizes/dimensions, nor did they provide documentation of a risk assessment they claimed was undertaken after the incident.

Safety At Work Blog states: “This tragic death is the latest illustration of a challenge that businesses and OHS regulators have faced regularly – the line between public liability and occupational health and safety law. Businesses have applied a rule of thumb where injuries related to work activities are OHS matters but risks presented to customers or visitors who are in the workplace have been dealt with through public liability insurance.Read the full posting here

{ 1 comment }

AW June 11, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Would have been a good idea to get some facts before printing this article.
The SafetyAtWork article was not accurate. Michelle was not Parkouring or FreeStyle. She was in a recreational gymnastics class that was supposed to be supervised by a qualified coach with safety equipment in place which should have included the appropriate matting. Gym club failed.
No alcohol in system. No drugs in anti-mortem blood samples, very low residual amounts post mortem. Just a dodgy defence stratagey that displayed low morals by gym management. Gym was found guilty, tried to appeal decision and was dismissed. WH&S have intorduced new inspections, Governing body (Gym Qld) are now enforcing regulations and introduced new ones.

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