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SAPOL fined $650,000 for 2016 Echunga Training Facility death

Media Release
16 April 2019

SA Police were today fined $650,000 over the 2016 death of 54-year-old worker Debra Summers in a walk-in freezer at the Echunga Training Reserve, reduced to $390,000 due to the early plea.

In December 2018 SA Police pleaded guilty to failing to comply with their health and safety duty under sections 19 and 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) that resulted in Ms Summers’ death.

SafeWork SA Executive Director, Martyn Campbell, said the penalty, among the highest imposed for a WHS breach in South Australia, conveys the seriousness of SA Police’s health and safety failings.

“I’d first like to extend my thoughts and sympathies to Ms Summers’ family, I’m mindful that no financial penalty can make up for their loss, but I hope that this judgement brings them a sense of justice and allows them to begin the healing process,” Mr Campbell said.

“I’ve stated before that there were a number of failures that led to Ms Summers’ death, and I’m satisfied that this is reflected in today’s judgement.

“While I’m pleased to have seen a commitment by both SA Police and the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) to address these failures, and to look more broadly at their systems to ensure all hazards are identified and managed appropriately, there is no excuse for the failures that led to Ms Summers’ death.

“I remind all businesses to remember the cost of failing to uphold their health and safety obligations extends far beyond the financial, they’re gambling with their worker’s lives.”

Treasurer Rob Lucas previously committed to directing the full penalty to bolstering SafeWork SA’s investigative function.

Ms Summers’ family has requested their privacy be respected and they will not be conducting any media interviews at this time.