A nine month suspended gaol term has been imposed on the owner of a roofing business for threatening and intimidating a WorkCover NSW Inspector.

On 5 June a Court also imposed fines of $15,000 and $1,000 for not following a WorkCover Inspector direction, with regard to safety equipment required when working at heights and obstructing the WorkCover Inspector while exercising compliance powers.

The Court also ordered the business owner to pay $5,000 to cover WorkCover’s legal costs.

The penalties related to offences under the Work Health & Safety Act 2011 (NSW).

On 4 June 2014 a WorkCover Inspector attended a work site and issued a direction to the business owner to not work at heights unless both he and his worker used the required safety equipment. During this visit, and for a number of days after this visit, the business owner threatened and intimidated the WorkCover Inspector.

The owner of the roofing business pleaded guilty to all three charges filed by WorkCover for breaches of the Work Health & Safety Act. The penalties include a 25 per cent discount for an early guilty plea.

WorkCover’s Executive Director, Work Health and Safety, Peter Dunphy, said Inspectors play a vital role in workplace safety education and regulation in order to keep NSW workplaces safe.

“Their job can be difficult and putting up with aggression or any actions that put them at risk will not be tolerated,” Mr Dunphy said.

“Inspectors are required to ensure workplaces comply with obligations under the Work Health & Safety Act. Inspectors have legislated powers to enter workplaces and assess site safety and workplace compliance. Employers need to respect this and allow Inspectors to do their job to reduce the risk of serious injury or harm.

“WorkCover will take appropriate action, including enforcement action through the courts with regard to any conduct that subjects its Inspectors to the risk of harm to their health and safety.

“The courts have indicated with this sentence that intimidation of a WorkCover Inspector, and obstruction and failure to follow an Inspector’s directions with regard to workplace safety, is unacceptable. 

 “We want all workers to return home safely at the end of each working day, and this includes our Inspectors.”

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