Cafe pleads guilty after worker is burnt

The former management and director of the Royal Copenhagen cafe at Brighton in South Australia have pleaded guilty to work safety breaches after a worker was severely burned in 2018. A beachside cafe and one of its directors have pleaded guilty to work, health and safety breaches after a young employee’s face and hair caught fire in a shocking workplace incident in 2018.

A 21-year-old casual employee at Royal Copenhagen Cafe in Brighton suffered serious burns to her face, neck and hands when she poured methylated spirits into an ethanol burner, causing a flashback flame, in August 2018. SafeWork SA charged H & T Cook Enterprises and director Tiarne Cook for failing to ensure the health and safety of workers while on the job.

They have pleaded guilty in the South Australian Employment Tribunal to breaching two sections of the Work Health and Safety Act in relation to their duty of care to their workers.

The cafe has been under new management for the past two years, and the current management has no involvement with this case.

SafeWork SA’s investigation found that H & G Cook Enterprises:

FAILED to ensure all workers refuelled the ethanol burner in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions;

DID NOT give all workers who refuelled the burner written instructions directing them to only refuel the burner in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions;

FAILED to adequately train all workers in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions; and

DID NOT supervise all workers to ensure they only refuelled the burned in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Cook pleaded guilty to failing to exercise due diligence to ensure the company complied with its statutory duty. SafeWork SA executive director Martyn Campbell said it was the responsibility of people running businesses to ensure their workers receive adequate training to do their job safely and that adequate systems were in place to protect employees.

“A 21 year old worker was seriously injured and left … with lifelong effects from this incident,” he said. “I was personally distressed seeing the images from CCTV footage which show how quickly something like this could happen.

“This is an example of an unprepared small business owner not taking their work health and safety responsibilities seriously and a worker paying the price.” Mr Campbell said many small businesses employed young, casual and inexperienced workers, many of whom were working for the first time.

“These young workers are at risk as they often have no, to limited work experience and knowledge to know when they are placed in unsafe and dangerous situations,” he said.

“It is critical that business owners take extra precautions to ensure these groups of workers are safe, as many have never experienced the work environment before.

“Business owners have a duty to provide extra care to this vulnerable group.”

H & T Cook Enterprises and Cook will be sentenced at a later date.

Source: Adelaide Now

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