Buslink NT promises to pay $660,000 over worker’s death to avoid court

by | Oct 28, 2020 | News | 0 comments

NT’s largest bus operator, Buslink NT, has been forced to promise to pay $660,000 among other requirements, as a result of an NT WorkSafe investigation into the death of one of its drivers who was killed after a bus rolled over her in 2017.

The Northern Territory’s Work Health and Safety regulator Bill Esteves said an investigation found Buslink NT had failed to implement adequate control measures to manage the issue of bus rollaway.

NT WorkSafe alleges this failure not only exposed the driver to the risk of death or serious illness, but also had the potential of placing the health and safety of their passengers and nearby pedestrians at risk.

Mr Esteves said that on October 26, 2017, the 59-year-old Buslink NT employee was driving a chartered bus taking cruise ship passengers on a day trip and during the scheduled lunch break at the Humpty Doo Hotel, she returned to the bus to collect personal items.

As she was returning to the pub, she noticed the bus rolling forward, and ran back to open the bus door to engage the interlocking braking system, WorkSafe said.

During his attempt to reach the door switch, she fell forward into the path of the moving bus, Mr Esteves said.

Buslink NT was charged with six offences under section 32 of the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 for failing in its duty to protect its drivers, passengers and the community from the risk of rollaway incidents.

The six charges have been withdrawn, but NT WorkSafe said they can commence proceedings if Buslink NT fail to comply with the terms of an enforceable undertaking the company agreed to.

The other elements of the enforceable undertaking are: Installing MobilEye collision avoidance systems in all 327 buses across Buslink’s Northern Territory and Queensland fleets; producing and distributing an instructional video on rollaway bus prevention for bus operators and drivers across Australia; and working with a partner organisation to deliver a Northern Territory road safety campaign targeting distracted driving.           

Mr Esteves said the NT WorkSafe investigation found no evidence of reckless conduct, which would have prohibited the proposed undertaking from being accepted.

“The activities Buslink NT committed to in its enforceable undertaking have been assessed as likely to result in long term, sustainable, measurable and tangible work health and safety benefits for the workplace, the industry and the community,” he said.

“The expected work health and safety benefits will deliver outcomes superior to those expected from a court sanction, in particular the rollaway bus prevention video will ensure that learnings from Buslink NT’s experiences will be communicated across Australia,” he said.

“Following the incident, Buslink NT has worked with the original equipment manufacturers to identify and implement additional engineering safety controls to further reduce the risk of a bus rollaway.”

 

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