Energy Australia charged over Yallourn death

Yallourn Power Station (yallourn fire)
Yallourn Power Station (Image: Kip Scott/Shutterstock)

WorkSafe has laid charges against Energy Australia for three breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act over the 2018 death of 54-year-old Graeme Edwards, who was fatally burnt while working at Yallourn Power Station in Latrobe Valley, ABC News reports.

The Victorian regulator announced in November last year that the company would not face charges over the Yallourn death—a decision met with disgust from Mr Edwards’s friends, colleagues and unions.

Yesterday’s decision comes after a review by the Director of Public Prosecutions, which was demanded by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.

Related article: Workers hit out at Yallourn safety culture

Mr Edwards died after being badly burnt in an electrical short circuit while performing routine maintenance at the plant on November 12, 2018.

Energy Australia’s internal investigation into the Yallourn death found Mr Edwards had been doing his job exactly as he had been trained, but the source of the high voltage power had not been adequately barricaded to protect workers.

Energy Australia will face the Latrobe Valley Magistrates Court on January 13.

In November, workers at Yallourn told the Sydney Morning Herald that Energy Australia had a “culture of dollars before lives” as details emerged about a potentially fatal onsite explosion in March.

Documents from WorkSafe described a “catastrophic” explosion in one of Yallourn’s pulverised fuel mills on March 20. Photographs of the explosion show the casing around the pulverising mill’s shaft blown apart, sparking a fire and flinging metal debris up to 20 metres away.

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