Bully Sets Worker on Fire; Leads to Calls for Law Reform

Law pundits believe a bullying case where a young man was set aflame by a co-worker shows serious problems with the Occupational Health and Safety scheme

Nick Clements stated that he was squired with a highly flammable cleansing solvent and then was subsequently set on fire by a co-worker at Haeusler’s farm machinery dealership in Victoria. Clements, who had been diagnosed with high functioning autism as a child, was nine days into a two-week trial period when the incident occurred.  Clements was reportedly squirted in the crotch with the flammable substance.

Nathan Frizzle, the apprentice who set Clemments on fire is still employed  at Haeusler’s after pleading guilty to  the assault.Frizzle was  granted a 12-month good behaviour bond and a just a $500 fine.

Prior to the court ruling, WorkSafe,  decided it would not take any action because of the police charges.With most options expired, the Clements family plans to lodge a victims-of-crime complaint with the Director of Public Prosecutions.

WorkSafe’s decision has left Clements and his family very disappointed.

“I find it a disgusting outcome. It feels like a real spit in the face to see what he got,”  said Clements.

Famed anti-bullying lawyer Moira Rayner is heading efforts to establish  a national tribunal to allow civil claims.Rayner believes WorkSafe’s behavior to Clements is not exclusive to him and the watchdog organisation should have done much more to help him

“I have always regarded bullying as a failure by management and all our bullying law is unsatisfactory because they don’t give the individual a personal right of redress,” she said.

“If they make a WorkCover claim or a WorkSafe claim and it doesn’t end up because of technicalities in addressing their problems, then the person who’s been bullied, victimised and psychologically if not physically harmed may well have on top of that a sense of grave injustice.

“When someone could have been killed in a classic apprentice-playing-with-fire incident, there should have been an immediate and effective intervention in the workplace so the employer, the employees and the apprentices got the message very loud and clear that this could have ended up in a manslaughter charge.”

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-09-10/calls-for-workplace-law-reform-after-man-set-alight-by-co-worker/4253808?section=vic

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