Workplace safety watchdog lays 58 charges over Victoria’s hotel quarantine program

Workplace safety watchdog lays 58 charges over Victoria’s hotel quarantine program. By Rachel Blaxendale.

Victoria’s workplace safety watchdog has charged the state’s health department with 58 breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act in relation to the Andrews government’s initial hotel quarantine program.

Covid infections among security guards in two Victorian quarantine hotels in May and June 2020 led to the the state’s second wave of coronavirus, killing 801 people including 642 in aged care facilities, causing more than 18,000 to become infected, and resulting in a three-and-a-half month lockdown. …

The charges relate to the period between March and July 2020, when the health department was responsible for the oversight and co-ordination of “Operation Soteria”, Victoria‘s first hotel quarantine program.

“WorkSafe alleges that the Department of Health breached OHS laws by failing to appoint people with infection prevention and control (IPC) expertise to be stationed at hotels it was utilising for the program,” the agency said.

“It alleges the department failed to provide security guards with face-to-face infection prevention control training by a person with expertise in IPC prior to them commencing work, and either failed, or initially failed, to provide written instruction for the use of PPE.

“WorkSafe further alleges the department failed to update written instructions relating to the wearing of masks at several of the hotels.

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Dan Andrew’s mismanagement of hotel quarantine, and then his tepid and delayed approach to locking down, turned what should have been no lockdown or a two week lockdown into a three and a half month lockdown in 2020.

As it happens, the Wentworth Report called for Dan Andrews and Gladys Berejiklian to resign after the huge bushfires around Chistmas 2019 — because forest management is a state issue so the buck stops with them. If they had been pressured to resign, “magically” the forests would never be in such bad condition again. Instead, they got away with it and the fuel build-up and large fires will reoccur.

Climate change? Not really. No one can deny that burning off had not been conducted nearly often enough in the last 50 years in NSW and Victoria, resulting in unprecedented levels of combustible fuel lying on the forest floor. We used to burn off more often, before green foolishness became fashionable.

Imagine if Andrews and Berejiklian had resigned. Perhaps Victoria would have avoided three and a half months lockdown in 2020, and perhaps Sydney would have quickly and efficiently nipped the current covid breakout in the bud back in June, instead of waiting too long and letting it run. The NSW Premier who couldn’t even bring herself to say the word lockdown. Without her, Australia might be happily uninfected still.