Man Fined $21,000 For Deliberately Setting Apprentice Alight At Work

Published August 29, 2019 (last updated July 21, 2020) -

A man has been fined $21,000 for setting a colleague alight, in what is the individual biggest fine handed down for workplace bullying in South Australia.

The construction supervisor, working for an electrician company, was found to have sprayed flammable liquid on an apprentice’s clothes before setting them on fire. The supervisor plead guilty to charges of breaching workplace safety laws.

The South Australian Employment Tribunal heard that if the apprentice had kept his shirt on for 20 more seconds, he would have suffered second-degree burns.

The Tribunal, heading by Magistrate Stuart Cole, called the 28-year-old supervisor’s actions a “serious act of gross stupidity” and added that the supervisor’s actions exposed the man to serious injury or death.

“The potential for a devastating outcome from this incident was real,” Magistrate Cole said.

“(The supervisor) chased (the victim) who was trying to get away from what must have been a frightening situation.

“(The victim) was an apprentice with little if any control or influence over the defendant as a supervisor.”

Martyn Campbell, executive director of WorkSafe SA, said that such workplace bullying should not be tolerated.

“We all have children or somebody that we love, we send them to work and we expect them to be looked after and supervisors to have a responsibility to make sure that they’re safe,” Campbell said.

“[The apprentice] was verbally abused, he had his tools hidden, he was locked in containers.

“So for him, it was pretty traumatic and probably a lot more serious for him than other people would consider.”

The supervisor, who was co-accused along with another supervisor, is reported to have found a new job in a similar role. He made no comment leaving the tribunal.

His co-accused was fined $12,000 for his involvement in a separate hearing earlier in the year.

The electrical company that all three workers worked for have also pleaded guilty to breaching workplace safety laws. They will face the tribunal in November.

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