A union official recently accused of hindering a WHS inspector in Queensland has been charged with doing the same thing in another jurisdiction, while two of his colleagues have been charged with misleadingly telling workers they were entitled, by WHS laws, to leave an "unsafe" site on full pay.
A WHS regulator has stressed that it is continuing to tackle imminent or serious safety risks under current "work bans", and progressing strategies to protect its inspectors from threats or assaults, after the Federal Government warned that these inspectors are living in fear of occupational violence.
A model WHS guide has been amended to reflect recent Federal and High Court rulings on entering workplaces to assist health and safety reps. Safe Work Australia has also released new guidance on identifying company officers and their duties, a major fatality report, and safety and workers' comp comparison reports.
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".