Last year the Essendon Football Club (the Club) was charged with breaches of the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) (the OHS Act) in relation to the Club’s controversial supplements program by WorkSafe Victoria.

In early 2013, it was announced that the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the World Anti-Doping Authority had investigated the Club regarding the nature of the Club’s supplements program in 2011 and 2012.

It was alleged that the players were injected with banned and / or experimental substances as part of the program. For their part, the players claimed innocence and that they did not know what they were being injected with.

The Club pleaded guilty to the two charges of breaching section 21 of the OHS Act (the duty of care that employers owe employees) in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in late January 2016. Specifically, the Club was charged with failing, so far as reasonably practicable, to:

  • Provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health; and
  • Provide and maintain for employees a system of work that is safe and without risks to health.

The Club was convicted of the charges and fined a total of $200,000 for breaches of the OHS Act. The Club was also ordered to pay $20,000 for WorkSafe Victoria’s costs.

WorkSafe Victoria’s prosecution against the Club indicate that just like any other business, sporting organisations (professional or otherwise) have obligations to ensure the health and safety of its employees whilst at work, even if their workplace is a sporting field.

 

Information provided in this blog is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Workplace Law does not accept liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the content of this blog, or from links on this website to any external website. Where applicable, liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.