Employers that don't fully understand the circumstances in which they can terminate workers for safety breaches can face serious ramifications, but ensuring workers are properly trained is one of many steps they can take to ensure a decision stands up to scrutiny, a leading safety lawyer says.
In a case involving a charity drive and entry breaches, the Federal Court has rejected a regulator's assertion that workers' subjective "feelings" about how safe their sites are can't justify a stoppage.
An employer and three of its managers have been fined for preventing union officials from investigating suspected safety breaches, while the Federal Court has dismissed claims that a union official "negated" a Western Australian employer's choice to operate after an ACT fatality, which led to multiple reckless conduct charges.
A commission has found an employer can require a claustrophobic worker to work in enclosed spaces, but warned that the company's approach to accommodating his condition will be carefully scrutinised if he is sacked for being unable to do so.
A full Federal Court has upheld a decision to reduce the maximum accident pay period in a modern award, from 78 to 52 weeks, based on improving safety standards and falling lost-time injury frequency rates.
The Fair Work Commission has rejected three workers' bids for "oppressive" interim stop-bullying orders blocking disciplinary action against them, while a full bench has upheld the reinstatement of a worker sacked for her drunken behaviour at a client's premises.
In a long-running case that clarified right-of-entry laws for assisting health and safety representatives, the Federal Court has found a union official's breaches only deserved a low-range fine, in part because they probably improved the safety and efficiency of the relevant site.