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Prosecution Details

Offender MAXNetwork Pty Ltd (ACN 067 092 737)


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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 KA4453/11 From 11 to 16 December 2009 15th August 2012 3A(2)(b)(i) $50,000.00 15th August 2012
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employer, failed, so far as was practicable, to provide and maintain a working environment in which its employees were not exposed to hazards; contrary to sections 19(1) and 19A(3) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

The Accused provides employment services on behalf of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.  The Accused assists disadvantaged people to find employment.

The Accused has approximately 80 offices around Australia, including 11 in Western Australia and 1 in Kalgoorlie.

The Accused employs a number of employment consultants at its Kalgoorlie office. They work with job seekers to identify and address barriers to employment. 

The consultants regularly travel to remote areas. Some travel over 3,000 kilometres a month to outreach sites, most of it out of mobile phone range.  Several of the Accused's clients are only accessible by a rough dirt road and narrow tracks.

Friday 11 December 2009

On 11 December 2009 two employment consultants (employees) were instructed to do an ‘outreach visit' to the remote community of Tjuntjuntjarra, departing on Monday 14 December 2009. They were instructed to drive a Toyota Prado from Kalgoorlie to the community.

The community is located in the Great Victoria Desert, approximately 600 kilometres from Kalgoorlie.  

Monday 14 December 2009

At about 6.00am on Monday 14 December 2009 the two employees left Kalgoorlie. The journey to the community was estimated to take nine or ten hours.  They should have arrived between 2.30pm and 3.30pm.  There were numerous forks in the road, no signs and at some points, it was a narrow track. It was difficult to see where the track was.   They were not provided with a map, GPS or other navigation aid and got lost.

The Accused had given the two employees a satellite telephone.  They tried to use the satellite telephone to telephone a friend to ask for directions. 

The satellite telephone had an invalid account and did not work.  Management at the workplace had been told of this prior to the trip.  The lost employees were unable to call anyone for directions or help. 

There was no schedule or system for contact with the lost employees so no-one realised that they were overdue.  In April 2010 the Accused implemented a system of regular contact with employees performing outreach services.  

The vehicle carried an EPIRB tracking device but neither of the lost employees knew how to use the device.   They incorrectly thought it was turned on. Since April 2010 the Accused has trained its employees to use its EPIRBs.

The lost employees had not been provided with information or training about driving a four wheel drive vehicle in rough, off-road conditions. They did not know how to switch the vehicle into four wheel drive, to reduce the tyre pressure when they were driving in soft sand or how to change a tyre in soft sand.  Since April 2010 the Accused's employees primarily responsible for doing outreach work have completed an accredited 4x4 course.

The lost employees had not been instructed to take enough food and water for longer than they expected to be away.  One employee had packed enough water for three days as she thought that was how long the trip would be.

The lost employees had not been provided with first aid training. 

At about 4.30pm on Monday 14 December, the Accused's Goldfields Area Manager received a call from a client who worked at the community.  The client asked what time the two employees had left Kalgoorlie because she was cooking dinner for them.  The Area Manager said she was not sure what time they had left.  She also said she was confident they were just running late and were fine. 

During the evening the Area Manager sent a text message to one of the employee's mobile phone but did not know if the phone had reception.  It did not have reception.

Neither employee had received training or instruction about travelling in remote areas and did not know what to do when they became lost.  They drove through the night hoping to find the community.  During the night they tried to call emergency services by dialling 000 on the satellite telephone.  The phone kept saying "invalid account". The satellite phone was able to call 911.  However they had not been told that the emergency number for the satellite phone was 911, not 000.

Tuesday 15 December 2009

After driving continuously for 23 hours, at approximately 5am on Tuesday 15 December 2009, the lost employees came across the Ilkulka roadhouse.  It had a public telephone out the front so one of the employees made a reverse charge call to her husband. He then contacted the Area Manager and told her that the two employees were lost.  The Area Manager went to the Accused's office where she tried to activate the EPIRB computer software to locate the employees.  Nothing came up.  She was unable to locate the vehicle.  

The husband of the employee then arrived at the Accused's office, with his wife on his mobile phone.  The Area Manager spoke to the Accused's IT manager on the phone and then told the lost employee to go back to the car and push the ‘I'm okay' button on the EPIRB.   This turned on the EPIRB.

The Area Manager got in touch with the community, who arranged for the caretaker of the Ilkulka roadhouse to go to the roadhouse. The caretaker made some temporary repairs to the Prado's tyres.  He lent the two employees his GPS navigation aid and his satellite telephone.  He also showed one of the employees how to drive in sand dunes and what to do if they got bogged. 

The two employees then left the road house to drive to the community.  The employee who was instructed how to drive in sand was extremely tired and whilst driving fell asleep several times.

In mid afternoon the employees arrived at the community.  They worked until they had completed their work.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

On Wednesday 16 December 2009 the tyres were repaired and the employees drove back to Kalgoorlie.  They had a hand drawn map given to them by the client and the caretaker of the road house had written landmarks on it.  At each landmark they put the next landmark into the caretaker's GPS. They still could not use the Accused's satellite telephone.


Since April 2010 the Accused had developed and implemented a range of measures to address the hazards of undertaking out reach visits.  In particular, it implemented:

    1. The Accused worked with an occupational safety and health consultant to carry out risk assessments for remote driving.
    2. A policy and procedure for safe driving.
    3. A pre-start mechanical check.
    4. A driver safety check list.
    5. An equipment check list.
    6. A travel plan.
    7. Emergency response procedures.
    8. Employees complete an accredited 4x4 course
    9. Training employees how to use the satellite phone.
    10. Ensuring employees operate the Spot GPS messenger devices

Outcome Summary

The Accused entered a guilty plea and was convicted.

Court Magistrate's Court of Western Australia - Kalgoorlie
Costs $4631.65

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