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Prosecution after army recruits injured in training

The Department of Defence has been charged with breaching federal work health and safety laws after two army recruits suffered severe electric shocks during a training exercise in Victoria.

Following an investigation by the regulator Comcare, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions has filed two charges in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court alleging the Department failed in its duties under the federal Work Health and Safety Act.

The charges relate to risk management and hazard identification. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of $1.5 million.

The incident happened at the Puckapunyal training area, near Seymour in central Victoria, during the exercise on the night of 4 July 2016.

Recruits being trained to operate communications systems were moving a portable radio antenna into a vertical position when it came into close proximity with overhead high voltage power lines.

A 20-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man suffered burns from the shock, and one also lost consciousness. They were airlifted to hospital in Melbourne and both made full recoveries.

The matter is listed for mention in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 6 September.

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Page last updated: 28 Jun 2018