Victorian workplace safety watchdog, WorkSafe Victoria, has charged an aged care nurse for working while COVID-19 positive and potentially putting residents at risk.
WorkSafe alleges that the nurse breached the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act twice following a COVID-19 outbreak in an unnamed aged care facility.
The alleged offences happened between July 26 and August 2 in 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nurse is charged with “recklessly” placing, or may have placed, another person in danger of serious injury by going into work after it was confirmed she was COVID positive through a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test.
Her second charge is for working between July and August of 2020, after being advised not to attend, which resulted in her failing to take “reasonable care” for the health and safety of other people at the workplace.
WorkSafe wants to make it clear that it does not allege that the nurse’s actions resulted in COVID-19 transmission in the workplace she attended.
The aged care nurse will be appearing before the Moorabbin Magistrates’ Court on September 7, 2022.
Victorian aged care under the microscope
The charges laid against the aged care nurse follows a busy couple of weeks for WorkSafe, first charging St Basil’s Home for the Aged in Victoria with COVID-19 related breaches two weeks ago and recently charging another aged care facility for COVID-19 related breaches on Monday.
On July 11, WorkSafe laid charges against Heritage Care Pty Ltd for three breaches of the OHS Act in 2020 at its Epping Gardens Aged Care facility in Victoria.
The provider is facing a maximum penalty of $4.4 million if found guilty of all three offences ($1.49 million for each alleged offence).
A total of 89 residents and 65 staff contracted COVID-19 during this outbreak, and 34 of those residents died from COVID-19 related complications.
WorkSafe alleges that between March 13 and July 20, 2020, during a COVID-19 outbreak, Heritage Care failed to train staff in using Personal Protective Equipment properly (PPE).
Some of the charges from WorkSafe include that the aged care provider failed to provide necessary training to employees to perform work safely and without risk to their health, failed to ensure people within the facility were not exposed to risks to their health due to the facility’s conduct, and failed to ensure its workplace was safe and without risk to health.
The Heritage Care Epping Gardens Aged Care facility will be going before the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 8 August.
HelloCare contacted Heritage Care Epping Gardens Aged Care for comment, but the facility refused to comment on the WorkSafe case.