A recent prosecution by WorkSafe has been a timely reminder of
the requirement not to obstruct an investigation into an
Eric Gerritsen ran a business providing amusement rides,
including a large inflatable slide which was approximately 12
metres high. At the Masterton A&P Show the slide collapsed,
injuring six children.
WorkSafe brought charges under section 48 of the Health and
Safety in Employment Act 1992, saying that Mr Gerritsen
"delayed an inspector" while the inspector was lawfully
exercising or performing a power, function or duty under the
The District Court decided that WorkSafe's
"investigation into the collapse of the Mammoth Slide was
delayed and hindered and ultimately thwarted by Mr Gerritsen, who
failed to provide any information required to complete the
Against a maximum fine of $250,000, Judge Burnett decided that
the starting point for a fine in this case would be $115,000,
noting that it would have been higher if there had been multiple
incidences being investigated and more serious injuries. There were
no mitigating factors identified, and therefore Mr Gerritsen was
The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 includes a similar
provision prohibiting a person from obstructing or hindering an
inspector, and also imposes a positive duty to give all reasonable
assistance to enable an inspector to enter, inspect, examine,
inquire, or exercise any other power under relevant health and
safety legislation. It will therefore be important to assist with
WorkSafe's investigations. Obstructing an investigation will
clearly not protect you from prosecution.
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
This WHS decision clarified the interpretation of s 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW).
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