A Victorian construction worker has been fined in court for “assaulting a WorkSafe inspector”, during which it was claimed the inspector was spat on and sworn at after asking workers to get down from an unsecured ledge.
The Victorian workplace safety regulator said in a statement that the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court had convicted and fined Atholl Robertson, who had pleaded guilty to spitting on the unidentified inspector and “hindering him in the course of his duties”.
According to WorkSafe Victoria, the inspector had been driving past a construction site in Elwood in October 2018, where he noticed site workers in close proximity to “an unprotected edge more than two metres above the ground”.
The inspector asked the workers to get back onto the ground for their own safety, before asking for their details.
WorkSafe said it was at this point that Mr Robertson refused to identify himself “while swearing and pacing around [the inspector]”.
“He then spat on the inspector twice,” it said.
WorkSafe said that Mr Robertson then left the vicinity before returning, at which point he “hit the inspector’s notebook from his hand and attempted to take his identification”.
“Everyone has a right to be safe from violence and aggression while on the job, including WorkSafe inspectors,” said Julie Nielsen, the agency’s executive director, health and safety.
“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 Victoria said witnesses to the incident claimed the inspector involved had “maintained a calm demeanour and behaved professionally throughout the ordeal”.
Mr Robertson was fined $3,500 and ordered to pay costs of $127.40.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.