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SafeWork SA secures second conviction over bullying of construction apprentice

Media Release
28 August 2019

SafeWork SA has been successful in securing a second conviction in a workplace bullying incident in which an apprentice was squirted with flammable liquid and set alight whilst at work in March 2017.

Luke Daniel Chenoweth, a site supervisor, was convicted of a Category 1 offence and fined $21,000, after a 40% reduction for an early guilty plea.

On 3 June 2019, Jeffrey Rowe – also a site supervisor – was convicted and fined $12,000 plus costs in relation to the same workplace bullying incident.

The charges laid against Mr Chenoweth by SafeWork SA were:

Contrary to section 31 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) Luke Chenoweth had a health and safety duty, failed to comply with that duty and that failure exposed (the victim) to a risk of death or serious injury.

SafeWork SA Executive Director Martyn Campbell said this second sentence is a strong message not only to employers but also other workers, particularly if they are in a position of authority.

“Supervisors and other leaders have a responsibility to look after young workers, not physically abuse them in the name of fun or high jinks. This case highlights that this sort of behaviour is completely unacceptable and the verdict today emphasises that view.

“It is not enough for a business to just have a ‘No Bullying’ policy. Executives, managers and supervisors must live and breathe that policy to ensure it is ingrained in the fabric of organisational culture. Each has a duty to look after the health and safety of all workers and especially young workers new to the workforce.

“I would encourage every business to look at their own processes for how they manage bullying. If they fall short of the standard then they need to ask for assistance to make sure they are legally compliant and doing what is required to ensure worker health and safety,” said Mr Campbell.