Ice skating rink operator fined $50,000

Kenneth Charles Jensen, who operated the Winter Wonderland rink, was sentenced in the Wodonga Magistrates’ Court on Thursday on a charge of failing to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that the workplace and the means of entering and leaving it were safe and without risks to health.

Jensen was also ordered to pay costs of $3,752.

On 9 June 2019, the rink had to be cleared after some patrons and visitors developed headaches and became nauseous.

The court heard two children, including one who twice lost consciousness, required oxygen treatment at hospital.

A WorkSafe investigation found carbon monoxide emissions in the exhaust from an LPG powered ice resurfacing machine, that was regularly used to polish the rink, exceeded recommended levels.

The court heard the machine was defective and had not been properly maintained or tuned to minimise the levels of carbon monoxide in the exhaust emissions.

There was also no monitoring of carbon monoxide levels being undertaken at the rink and tests found inadequate ventilation meant dangerous carbon monoxide levels inside spread through the building rather than dispersing.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Andrew Keen said it was good luck rather than good management that the patrons and visitors at the rink did not sustain more significant injuries.

“Carbon monoxide affects the body’s ability to carry oxygen to organs and can be a silent killer. Because the gas is colourless, odourless and tasteless, it is extremely difficult to identify dangerous levels without suitable detectors.”

“WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute businesses or employers who fail to do everything possible to protect the health and safety of their workers or patrons.”

Working safely with LPG-powered ice resurfacing machines

  • Employers should, if reasonably practical, replace LPG-powered ice resurfacers with electric-powered equipment. If this is not practical, employers should ensure:
    • The vehicle is regularly maintained, checked and tested, and is tuned to minimise carbon monoxide emissions
    • Patrons are kept out of the ice skating rink during resurfacing
    • All LPG-powered equipment operators are trained in the risks and symptoms associated with carbon monoxide over-exposure and the importance of ensuring regular maintenance and tuning to minimise carbon monoxide emissions
  • Operators may also use a suitable carbon monoxide monitor to warn when gas levels are unsafe, or to check that the equipment is functioning safely. They should be trained in how to use the monitor and what to do if they detect unsafe carbon monoxide levels

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