A union official's high Fair Work fine (and second personal payment order) is more modest than it might have been, with the Federal Court agreeing that at the time of his offences, it was unclear whether he needed a permit to enter a site at the request of a health and safety representative.
A union has launched Federal Court proceedings against an employer, whose health and safety manager and others allegedly unlawfully required officials to give 24 hours' notice to enter a site to investigate suspected safety contraventions.
The Federal Court has been tasked with determining whether union officials can enter sites without a permit under a WHS provision for resolving issues, after a regulator alleged that eight organisers breached the Fair Work Act at a major, incident-strewn site.
A union and seven officials have been fined a total of $313,000 for making disingenuous safety claims to enter a construction site and disrupt work, with one official kicking over a railing to create a safety concern.
The powers of health and safety reps in one of Australia's most hazardous sectors must be stepped up and aligned with those in the model WHS Act to combat a "culture of fear and reprisal", an inquiry has found. However, Government members of the inquiry warn against harmonisation "simply for the sake of consistency".
The Federal Court has imposed and upheld right-of-entry fines totalling nearly $600,000 against the CFMMEU, and confirmed that a swipe card incident was a "worst category" safety breach, but declined to make a personal payment order against an OHS officer.
A full Federal Court has finalised the first personal payment order against a union official fined for Fair Work breaches, paving the way for a regulator to seek similar orders in more than a dozen other cases, including one where an official abused a safety inspector.
A union and officials who attempted to "leverage safety" for industrial objectives have been fined nearly $140,000, while a company and its director have been fined $111,000 for their actions against WHS permit holders, inspectors and police.
WHS consultants, lawyers and occupational hygienists will have an explicit duty to ensure their services don't create health and safety risks at client sites, if recommendations on the development of a harmonised WHS Bill are adopted in Western Australia.