When you think of health and safety plans for workers, you tend to think about tradies working in places like Mooloolaba in the Sunshine Coast, or factory and warehouse workers. You do not tend to think about professional athletes, but it may come as a surprise to learn that they can be affected when health and safety regulations are bent or ignored completely. If you don’t believe us, you need only look at what recently happened with the Essendon Bombers Football Club to see that this is a very serious matter indeed.
The AFL club was recently fined $200,000 for workplace breaches that a judge believed put players in potential danger. The situation began back in 2012, with the Bombers looking to gain a competitive edge over their opponents by implementing a new health program that was later deemed to be totally unsafe. A trio of men involved in the situation were name as they main perpetrators. They were James Hird, who coached the team at the time, fitness coach Dean Robinson, and a so-called sports scientist named Stephen Dank. None of the men were fined, but they were mentioned as having played a major role in the workplace violations.
Shortly after an injection and supplements regime was put in place at the club, players started to question what they were having put into their bodies. By the end of January in 2013, a set of protocols had been put in place that would see all of those supplements and injections needing to pass the approval of Bruce Reid, the team doctor. What the court appears to have proved with their ruling is that those protocols went on to be routinely ignored, which in turn kept all the players’ health in danger.
All of the players who were with the club at that time were instructed not to talk about the new regime with anyone other than the aforementioned men. Dank eventually left the Bombers in August of 2012, but the judge in the case wanted to know why the health of the players, who are essentially the most important part of the franchise, was put in danger for those preceding months. Essendon admitted to wrongdoing, and ended up paying and additional $20,000 for legal fees on top of the aforementioned fine.
Many of the players who were part of that regime back in 2012 have now had their names cleared in an ongoing anti-doping investigation, as it now seems that they were basically clueless about what was being put into their bodies. It doesn’t matter whether you are one of the many trades doing business in the Sunshine Coast or a professional athlete, you should still be expected to be in a work environment that is up with all of the current health and safety regulations in Australia. This case proves that the penalties are indeed severe for any organization looking to bed or ignore those rules.