Labour hire company and director fined for obstructing investigation over worker’s death

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A Queensland-based labour hire company and its company director were convicted and fined a total of $13,000 in the Darwin Local Court for failing to cooperate with NT WorkSafe, and without a reasonable excuse, ignoring requests to provide documents during an investigation into the 2016 death of a Fijian national worker.

The worker was hired to pick fruit in the Douglas Daly region. He died in a motor vehicle accident involving a vehicle provided by the company to its workers.

The company and director pleaded guilty to breaching work health and safety laws.

Acting Executive Director of NT WorkSafe, Mr. Chris Wicks said the conviction should serve as a reminder that work health and safety laws applied to a wide variety of situations and to all workplaces, it was the role of the regulator through an investigation, to determine if an incident was work-related or not.

“It was concerning to hear that during sentencing the relevance of NT WorkSafe’s investigation into the matter was queried,” he said.

“Just because an incident involves a motor vehicle, doesn’t mean it is only a police matter under the motor vehicle and traffic legislation.

“In certain circumstances, work health and safety laws can apply and it is the role of WorkSafe inspectors to investigate whether a person conducting a business or undertaking has breached safety standards owed by them to workers and other persons,” said Mr. Wicks.

“Unless there is a reasonable excuse, businesses and workers have an obligation under the work health and safety laws to comply with a request for information during an investigation.”

The company was fined $10,000 and the director $3000 after they have been given a discount for an early guilty plea. They were also required to pay a victims levy of $150.

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