In Inspector Walker v On Track Community Programs Limited [2013] NSWIRComm the New South Wales Industrial Relations Commission fined an employer $115,000 on a guilty plea after a worker was murdered.

Facts

An employee of On Track Community Programs Ltd (On Track), a support service provider, was murdered by a client on an unauthorised home visit.

On Track did not obtain a hospital mental health discharge summary for the client, which contained information that the client had a high risk of violence, prior to accepting the client into a housing support program.

An On Track employee visited and was attacked and murdered by the client.  The client was charged with murder but found not guilty due to mental illness.

Decision

On Track pleaded guilty and was fined $115,000 for breaching the repealed Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 (NSW) in failing to prohibit workers from dealing with the client without obtaining the discharge summary, and failing to recognise an adequate risk assessment of the client couldn't be undertaken without the summary.

Vice President Michael Walton found that the discharge summary "would have armed the management and employees of On Track with adequate information about the mental health, psychotic states and violent behaviour of [the client] in order to protect On Track's employees by controlling or minimising the risk".

Lessons

This decision serves as a lesson for employers to ensure that appropriate and adequate risk assessments are undertaken and particularly in high risk situations.