Queensland based labour hire company Tropickist Pty Ltd and company director David O’Brien were both convicted and fined a total of $13,000 in the Darwin Local Court on 3 July 2019, after pleading guilty to breaching Section 155 (5) of the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011.
Mr O’Brien and Tropickist failed to cooperate with NT WorkSafe, and without a reasonable excuse, ignored requests to provide documents during an investigation into the 2016 death of Fijian national, Josia Benaca Turagatani.
Mr Turagatani, who was hired to pick fruit in the Douglas Daly region by Tropickist, died in June 2016 in a motor vehicle accident involving a vehicle provided by Tropickist to its workers.
Acting Executive Director of NT WorkSafe, Mr Chris Wicks said the conviction was a timely reminder that work health and safety laws applied to a wide variety of situations and to all workplaces, and 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,” Mr Wicks 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,” Mr Wicks said.
“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.”
Tropickist was fined $10,000 and Mr O’Brien $3,000, after a discount given for an early guilty plea. Tropickist and Mr O’Brien were also required to pay a victims levy of $150 each.
The charge for breaching section 32 of the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 against both Tropickist and its director, for exposing its workers and other persons to whom it owed a workplace duty of care to risk of death, was earlier withdrawn on legal advice concerning evidentiary issues.
Media Contact: Peter Chan 0401 114 569