Jul 05, 2022

St Basil’s charged by WorkSafe for COVID-19 failings

After a nearly two year long investigation, St Basil’s Home For The Aged in Victoria has been charged by WorkSafe Victoria, workplace health and safety watchdog, for its poor reaction in 2020 to a COVID-19 outbreak.

The facility in Fawkner, Victoria, has been charged with nine breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

In the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak at the facility, 94 residents and 94 staff tested positive for the virus and 45 residents died from COVID-19 related issues. During the outbreak, five other residents, who did not catch the virus, also died.

WorkSafe has alleged that the facility failed to notify workers that they had tested positive to the COVID-19 virus in July 2020. 

The facility also failed to:

  • Tell workers to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Train workers in how to safely wear PPE
  • Verify that staff were capable in using PPE
  • Tell staff when they should be wearing PPE
  • Supervise staff when using the PPE

The facility allegedly failed to provide its employees “a working environment that was safe and without risks to health”, said WorkSafe.

Prior to these charges, St Basil’s Home For The Aged, Victoria, was investigated by the Victorian State Coronor in August 2020 to determine the causes of death of 50 aged care residents in the facility.

The state inquiry case still remains up in the air as in the initial stages there were issues with upper management declining to take part in the inquiry.

The WorkSafe case will be going before the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 1 August this year.

St Basil’s Home For The Aged, Victoria, was contacted multiple times for comment but HelloCare didn’t receive a response.

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  1. What a disgrace to charge a facility that struggled unsupported through the earliest times of a pandemic.
    It’s easy to forget, especially if you want to, that so many senior staff were off and facilities didn’t have access to experienced staff to lead and direct so many things.

    It’s typical of the health department to hang these people out but if anything they were more responsible than anyone else for the mess which was/is covid.

    They weren’t prepared, they couldn’t get a Covid plan out until months after facilities were forced to.
    They didn’t, couldn’t provide surge staff, they didn’t call the ADF, they couldn’t, didn’t have PPE gear for facilities and despicable they refused to accept sick elderly covid positive nursing home residents into the hospitals!

    Facilities were threatened with sanctions and fines if they even tried to move infected residents from one part of a facility to another!
    $11,000 fines for not adhering to residents end of life plans… Covid was a fire that raced through facilities and you don’t look at end of life care plans when the building is on fire you just try to save everyone.

    Was everything perfect…not anywhere…but for the government and the health department to throw this facility under the bus when they were as unprepared seems to me to be diverting the blame and doing so inappropriately.
    Drop these charges and fines and have a thought for the bloody chaos in an unvaccinated time that took it’s toll in too many ways.

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