WorkSafe Victoria has issued a $3,500 fine to a worker who spat at one of its inspectors when he attended a construction site in Melbourne.
The inspector noticed while driving past the site that the workers were working at a two-metre height, less than one metre from an unprotected edge.
When the inspector stopped at the site, he instructed the workers to grab their tools and come to the ground level, as there was an immediate risk to their safety.
As the inspector started taking the workers’ details, one of the workers refused and swore at him. He then clenched his fists and swore again at the inspector. While the inspector continued to make notes in his notebook, the worker gathered phlegm in his mouth and spat at the inspector, then swore at him further.
The worker then paced around the inspector before gathering phlegm in his throat again and spitting at him a second time. This time the phlegm struck the inspector’s shoulder and sprayed onto his face. The inspector told the worker to calm down.
The worker walked away, but later returned. Swearing at the inspector again, he then tried to take his identification and knocked the inspector’s notebook out of his hand, which caused it to hit the inspector on the chin.
Other workers intervened and told the worker to leave the area.
When the worker returned, he still refused to provide his name and told other workers not to provide their names. He left again.
After some time, the worker eventually returned and handed the inspector his Red Card which had his name.
The 51-year-old worker, Atholl Robertson, pleaded guilty in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court to assaulting the inspector and was convicted and fined $3,500, plus $127.40 statutory costs.
“Our inspectors can attend any workplace at any time, and obstructing them from doing their job to protect workers from unsafe practices will not be tolerated under any circumstance,” WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said.
“Everyone has a right to be safe from violence and aggression while on the job, including WorkSafe inspectors.”