PATRICK Stevedores have been whacked with $475,000 in fines after being convicted of threatening workers who raised safety concerns.
In the Victorian County Court, Patrick Stevedores Holdings (PSH) was sentenced in relation to six counts of engaging in discriminatory conduct in regards to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
A County Court jury last year returned guilty verdicts on six of seven counts, PSH being found not guilty on the seventh count.
The court heard four workers were threatened by PSH’s Westernport port manager in March 2009 after they raised health and safety concerns about the proposed use of a forklift to lift heavy steel coils.
Patrick was fined $80,000 on count 1, $75,000 on counts 2, 6 & 7, and $85,000 on counts 4 and 5.
The matter had been before the courts for a long time due to it being heavily contested and a previous trial being abandoned when the jury was unable to reach a verdict.
WorkSafe executive director of health and safety Julie Nielsen said threatening workers who raise health and safety concerns would not be tolerated.
“Employers have a duty to take the safety concerns of employees seriously and not simply dismiss them out of hand or threaten them for doing so,” Ms Nielsen said.
“The consequences of such actions can be catastrophic. Workers are often ideally placed to identify unsafe work practices or situations and are encouraged to speak up if they feel their safety or the safety of their colleagues or the public is at risk.
“They should always be encouraged to do so because the safest workplaces are those where workers and management work together.”
Patricks at the time was part of the Asciano corporation, an entity that has since been partitioned and sold off.