There have been a number of incidents in the last two months involving SafeWork inspectors, and the SafeWork Regulator and Secretary of the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation, Martin Hoffman, has reiterated that the behaviour was unacceptable. At least two inspectors had been allegedly assaulted in recent months while carrying out their duties.
Mr Hoffman reiterated to businesses and workers that it is a criminal offence to hinder, obstruct, assault, threaten, or intimidate an inspector. “SafeWork staff are out there in the field to help businesses comply with health and safety legislation and to keep workers safe – any violent or aggressive behaviour displayed against our inspectors will not be tolerated,” Mr Hoffman said.
“Police are currently investigating after two separate incidents which occurred on November 2 last year and on January 17 this year.
“SafeWork NSW inspectors play a vital role in securing the health and safety of workers and as such they should be afforded the same level of respect and protection as every other worker,” Mr Hoffman said.
The body also took the opportunity to emphasise that the penalties for hindering the work of a SafeWork NSW inspector are severe. “The maximum penalties for persons convicted of intimating or assaulting a SafeWork NSW inspector are a $50,000 fine or imprisonment for two years or both for an individual, or in the case of a body corporate a $250,000 fine,” Mr Hoffman said.
“All workplaces have the obligation to not just provide necessary access to the workplace, but to be honest and provide information as requested.
“We will investigate all instances of alleged intimidation and assault of SafeWork NSW inspectors, we will report such instances to NSW Police and where warranted, we will prosecute those offences,” Mr Hoffman said.
In 2010, two men were convicted and fined $2,000 and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years after assaulting and intimidating a WorkSafe inspector in Victoria. Both men were also ordered to pay $6,000 in costs.