Patrick Stevedores handed huge OHS fine


Employees reported threats after raising safety concerns

Patrick Stevedores handed huge OHS fine
Guilty verdicts on six counts led to $475,000 in fines

 

Worksafe Victoria reports that Patrick Stevedores has been convicted and fined $475,000 for a 10-year-old case involving workers who were threatened for raising safety concerns.

Patrick Stevedores Holdings Pty Ltd (PSH) was sentenced in relation to six counts of engaging in discriminatory conduct contrary to section 76 of the OHS Act.

The fines were issued after a County Court jury had returned verdicts of guilty on six of seven counts on the indictment on December 3.

Section 76 "prohibits discrimination by an employer against an employee or prospective employee on grounds that relate to health and safety".

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


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The matter had been before the courts for a long period of time because it was heavily contested and a previous trial was abandoned when the jury was unable to reach a verdict, WorkSafe notes.

"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," WorkSafe executive director of health and safety Julie Nielsen says.

"Workers are often ideally placed to identify unsafe work practises or situations and are encouraged to speak up if they feel their safety of the safety of the colleagues or the public is 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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