In one of two important judgments involving a long-running battle between an employer and a union, an appeals court has warned that a trespass finding against four WHS entry permit holders could have encouraged workplaces to deliberately obstruct such officials, hindering the objectives of safety laws.
An entry permit holder's compliance with a site's directions and requests serves its own critical safety function, the Federal Court has stressed in imposing record entry fines on a union and six officials.
An employer that failed to implement a safe system for inflating tyres has been fined $200,000, after a worker was killed in a "percussive pressure" incident. Meanwhile, a company and its director have been sentenced for repeatedly refusing to allow WHS inspectors to enter a workplace.
A regulator has warned that union officials must hold valid right-of-entry permits when entering sites under provisions for "resolving" WHS matters, after the High Court blocked an appeal on the issue.
A full Federal Court has upheld a union's high-range penalty for pressuring WHS inspectors to shut down a site unnecessarily, while the Fair Work Commission has suspended and revoked the entry permits of union officials involved in the incident.