A catering company that services aged care homes has entered an enforceable undertaking with WorkSafe Victoria after coffee burnt a resident. As a result, the company must pay more than $281, 000 in costs to remedy their systems, training and management of workplace health and safety.

The incident occurred in a residential aged care home in Victoria, where the company provided a chef, catering assistants and food and beverages for residents. Black coffee was put on the over-bed table of an elderly resident who was unable to communicate and mostly immobile with limited upper body strength. Shortly afterwards an employee noticed the resident was thrashing about because coffee had spilt onto her leg. The resident suffered serious burns to her upper thigh and died two weeks later.

The catering business was liable for failing to ensure that people other than their employees were not exposed to health and safety risks from work activities. The company failed to ensure employees had sufficient information to perform their tasks correctly and did not receive adequate induction to know the emergency procedures on-site.

To avoid prosecution the company entered an undertaking with WorkSafe Victoria. The undertaking includes:

  • Employment of an individual to rectify the management system and introduce aged care specific safety standards.
  • Obtaining an ISO 45001 safety health and environment accreditation through independent assessment.
  • Site inspections at other aged care facilities it operates in.
  • Developing and implementing training to educate aged care industry about Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative. Dysphagia is a condition that causes difficulty swallowing and affects 40-50% of people in aged care facilities.
  • The Dysphagia training package will be given to aged care industry providers at no cost.
  • Donation to support the Lantern Project which aims to improve food and dining experience for aged care residents.
  • Donation to support Lifeline.

The total cost of these actions is estimated to be more than $281, 000.

This demonstrates costs the associated with correcting safety systems after WHS incidents, therefore it is crucial to have effective systems in place before incidents occur. Contact ProcessWorx to speak to us about our Safety Packages for small businesses and farms on (08) 9316 9896 or enquiries@processworx.com.au

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