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Laboratory explosion results in WHS charges (Media release)

12 June 2019

CSIRO has been charged with breaching federal work health and safety laws over an explosion at a Melbourne research facility.

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions has filed four charges in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria, alleging the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation failed in its duties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

The charges follow an investigation by regulator Comcare and relate to an incident at CSIRO’s Clayton site on 6 June 2017.

A researcher was conducting an experiment that involved sawdust being heated at pressure using hydrogen gas in an autoclave.

Gas leaked from the autoclave and ignited, causing injuries to the scientist including cuts, bruises and facial burns. There was extensive damage to the building, with debris being thrown up to 20 metres away.

The charges relate to alleged failures regarding the provision of a safe work environment, safe systems of work, safe use of plant and the provision of information and training.

All charges are Category 2 offences under the WHS Act, each carrying a maximum penalty of $1.5 million.

The matter is listed for mention in the Moorabbin Magistrates’ Court on 3 July.

Media Contact:
0478 305 675

Page last reviewed: 15 December 2019
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Date printed 29 Jun 2022