The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has entered into a Court enforceable undertaking with Comcare following an accident in which two people died after driving on an unsealed access track owned and controlled by ARTC.
In the early hours of the morning of 20 September 2008, a vehicle with two occupants crashed on the access track near Bowmans in South Australia, and both occupants of the vehicle died at the scene.
The subsequent investigation found that the access track was rarely used by ARTC employees or contractors, and the track demanded a high level of caution.
There were no signs or barriers indicating that the access track was not for public use, and ARTC have since closed the access track, with signs and barriers, to all vehicle use.
Comcare commenced civil proceedings against ARTC over its failure to observe its duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 (the OHS Act).
The action was the first time Comcare has commenced such proceedings for a breach of section 17 of the OHS Act, relating to an employer’s duty to third parties.
ARTC have undertaken to identify and control risks to the general public, arising out of its operations, with a particular focus on disused infrastructure such as the access track involved in the incident.
The case is a reminder to employers that their duty of care extends beyond their own workers and includes the general public, according to Comcare work health and safety general manager, Neil Quarmby.