A fine of $475K imposed following safety threats

A port operator has been convicted and fined $ 475,000 after he threatened workers who raised safety concerns.

The operator was sentenced in relation to six counts of engaging in discriminatory conduct contrary to section 76 of the OHS Act.

The court heard four employees were threatened by the port operator on 11 and 12 March 2009 after they raised health and safety concerns about the proposed use of forklift to lift heavy steel coils.

The matter has been before the courts for a long time as it was heavily contested and a previous trial was abandoned when the jury was not able to reach a verdict.

“Employers have a duty to take the safety concerns of employees seriously and not simply dismiss them out of hand or threaten them for doing so. The consequences of such actions can be catastrophic,” said WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen.

“Workers are often ideally placed to identify unsafe work practices or situations and are encouraged to speak up if they feel their safety of the colleagues or the public at risk.

“They should always be encouraged to do so because the safest workplaces are those where workers and management work together.”

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