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Date PostedOctober 6, 2013

WHS Lesson: Never Threaten an Inspector

Builders should learn a lesson from an incident which happened recently that landed 2 brothers in court after threatening a health and safety inspector.

The 2 were issued a forklift defect notice by the workplace health and safety inspector and engaged in a physical and verbal altercation with the inspector at their business.

The 2 brothers, pleaded guilty to intimidating an inspector when they tore up the notice issued by the inspector and stuffed it into his pocket. They then threatened him and his family. The men were found guilty and received a fine of $500 each and order to pay $226.30 in court costs atin the Hobart Magistrates Court.

The following excerpt is from a post on HeraldSun.com.au and explains why you should never threaten or abuse an inspector,

520557-gavel-and-scale-of-justiceNicholas Lambrakis, 35, and Jack Lambrakis, 39, had both pleaded guilty to one count of intimidating an inspector in the execution of his function following a physical and verbal altercation at their Howrah Fruit and Vegetable store on June 14 last year.

The court heard that after an infringement notice was issued for a missing forklift seatbelt, Nicholas Lambrakis tore up the ticket and stuffed it in the inspector’s pocket, while his older brother told the official: “You don’t know who you are dealing with. You and your family will be sorry. We know where you live.”

In convicting the men, Magistrate Catherine Rheinberger rejected the defence’s argument that the incident was “low-scale”, saying the threatening and intimidatory behaviour had been witnessed by a store full of customers.

“Inspectors need to feel that they can go into workplaces without experiencing intimidation,” Magistrate Rheinberger said.

“There are good reasons for such inspections taking place. What happened escalated into an extremely unpleasant incident.”

Source: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/brothers-who-threatened-health-and-safety-inspector-convicted-and-fined/story-fnjj6013-1226713514463

Although this was not a building site where the incident occurred, the lesson is relevant to all worksites –never threaten an inspector or verbally or physically assault them for your mistakes.

Employers the way to avoid unpleasantness when inspectors visit, is to ensure that your site is “up to scratch” when it comes to legislation.

Some of the issues that are particularly important for construction employers to remember include:

  • Ensuring that all machinery, tools and equipment is in good working condition and is being utilised safely and in the manner intended by manufacturers.
  • Ensuring that all workers are in possession of The White Card – general construction safety training.
  • Ensuring that workers are adequately trained and supervised.
  • Ensuring workers have been provided with the adequate fall protection
  • Ensuring workers have been provided with the appropriate PPE and are utilising PPE at all times and doing so correctly.
  • Making sure that workers are not unduly exposed to hazards and that the appropriate control measures are in place to protect workers from hazards.
  • Ensuring there is a good traffic management plan drawn up for the site.
  • Ensuring workers aren’t exposed to electrical hazards but rather that these and all other hazards are adequately addressed.

 

Steven Asnicar is regarded as a leader across many fields of industry. In particular, his specialisation across the health, infrastructure, construction, resource and utility sectors has seen him successfully change the dynamics of these industries through the introduction of new strategic, marketing, training and technical frameworks. Steven works closely with industry peak bodies such as Safework Australia, Australian Logistics Council, National Advisory for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (NATESE) and the Council of Australian Governments in the development of new delivery standards and industry specific programs.

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