ABCC continues successful prosecution of CFMMEU and officials
Australia’s building industry watchdog, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), has again succeeded in the Federal Court in securing penalties against the CFMMEU and an official of the union for breaches of right of entry provisions and non-compliance with site health and safety requirements.
The fines, totalling $54,540 related to behaviour by a union official, James Simpson, at the $220 million Monash Freeway upgrade project in Victoria in April and May 2017.
In the hearings before Justice Snaden, it was agreed that Mr Simpson had attended the site to investigate some safety concerns. Upon entering the site, he was informed by representatives of the contractor Fulton Hogan of the particular safety requirements for visitors to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), including safety glasses and full-length white reflective overalls. He was also told that he could not venture around the site unless escorted by a representative of Fulton Hogan.
Nevertheless, he remained at the site for approximately five hours, despite not wearing the prescribed PPE and on two occasions, ventured to parts of the site without being escorted by a representative of Fulton Hogan. He remained at the site despite numerous requests by contractor staff that he leave, and his presence and conduct at the site diverted four Fulton Hogan representatives from the activities to which their attention should have been directed.
As the judge noted,
“Simpson’s conduct at the Eumemmerring Creek Site was objectively very serious. He arrogantly assumed for himself a right to determine with which of Fulton Hogan’s occupational health and safety requirements he would comply. He knowingly contravened occupational health and safety protocols that were in place. Despite professing to be there to ensure that work was carried out safely, he put himself and others at risk. His conduct was reckless and conceited”.
In determining appropriate penalties, Justice Naden did note that Mr Simpson seemed to genuinely hold safety concerns for aspects of the job, at least wore some protective clothing, albeit not the clothing prescribed by the site, and was a relatively inexperienced official.
For queries about unions, right of entry, safety issues, or any other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 1300 925 529, 0417 622 178 or via email to email@example.com
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