A security firm hired to work in Victoria’s hotel quarantine system was only given protective equipment guidelines eight weeks after the program began, the court said.
WorkSafe indicted the Ministry of Health in September 2021 for 58 violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Justice Simon Zebrowski has five weeks of hearings underway to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support a conviction of the charges.
Wilson Security, MSS Security and Unified Security were given protective equipment guidelines within eight weeks of security guards starting work at the quarantine hotel, WorkSafe barrister Daniel Gurvich KC told Melbourne Magistrates Court. rice field.
Security companies had to provide their own PPE
Until that point, security firms had been tasked with enforcing their own procedures for staff, Gurvich said on Monday.
Security firms also had to provide security guards with their own protective gear, former MSS risk adviser Charles Hooper told the court.
If masks, gloves, or other equipment are missing, MSS security guards acting as supervisors will contact Mr. Hooper, who will personally deliver the items.
Gregory Watson, general manager of Wilson Security, told the court during contract negotiations between his company and the division that the requirement to provide the equipment was “a matter of guesswork.”
Shortage of masks and gloves
Masks and gloves were already in short supply at the time, so Wilson was forced to “hurry up” and procure equipment from abroad, Watson said in testimony Monday.
The role of security guards also shifted from remote observation to more hands-on work through the hotel’s quarantine program, the court said.
Security guards were deployed to accompany quarantined travelers on fresh air walks, Watson said, and one guard was threatened with a $20,000 fine when he questioned the change. It is said that
A federally-led online module on protective gear, social distancing, and other COVID safety measures is the only formal training security guards have received before starting work, the court said.
WorkSafe claims the Department of Health failed to provide security personnel with face-to-face professional infection control training and written instructions on how to use personal protective equipment.
It also alleges that it violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act by failing to appoint someone with infection prevention and control expertise to the hotel it was using.
The department was responsible for the state’s first hotel quarantine program from March to July 2020.
Health sector fined $95 million
The court said 90% of the state’s fatal second wave of cases were traced back to six security guards, health care workers and employees who contracted the virus at Rydges Hotels from May 25, 2020. was broken.
Another 10% of cases could be traced to 26 security guards and department employees based in Stamford since June 16.
The second wave resulted in more than 18,000 new infections, 800 deaths and a 112-day lockdown.
If found guilty of the WorkSafe charges, the department could face fines totaling more than $95 million.
Hearings continue on Tuesday.