The defendant held duties under s.189 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. She held herself out to be an inspector under that Act.
In May 2016 she was approached by a man who offered her employment as a business development officer for a relatively new business dealing with safety and safety compliance, fire safety and testing and tagging electrical equipment.
On seven occasions, between August and September 2016, the defendant represented to businesses that she was a Senior Inspector attached to a WHSQ office. These businesses each received a similar Queensland Government crested envelope in the mail (sent by the defendant) containing what appeared to be legitimate WHSQ documents including: notices of intended audit/inspection, and a Queensland Government business card, describing her as a Senior Inspector, WHSQ. She contacted several of the businesses by phone. These conversations referred to the documentation sent to them by her and her intention to attend each workplace, on a specified date, to conduct a WHSQ audit/inspection. The defendant subsequently failed to attend any of the workplaces as arranged.
The offending behaviour came to the notice of WHSQ when a worker at one of the businesses telephoned and made enquiries relating to the defendant's failure to attend that workplace as arranged.
The defendant pleaded guilty in the Ipswich Magistrates Court on 27 March, 2018 to breaching s.189 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and was sentenced.
Magistrate Shepherd fined the defendant $2,500 and ordered that no conviction be recorded.
In reaching a decision, the Magistrate took into account the plea of guilty at early opportunity and lack of prior matters. He said it was serious albeit only dealt with by fine. It was a course of conduct arising from employment and he accepted that the defendant was asked to send out the material with the documents indicating that she was a WHSQ inspector. Ultimately her actions were with the view to improving her employer's business prospects, as it was obvious he hoped that businesses might contact him, given the fear of the pending inspection in hopes of avoiding or passing the audit/inspection. Despite the defendant's personal difficulties and misgivings at the time she still ought to have been aware that sending out Government agency documents to private companies and letting them believe they were soon to be involved with a WHSQ inspection was an obvious illegality. She should not have pretended to be a Government official.
In terms of the comparative South Australian case, Magistrate Shepherd indicated that whilst the offences were similar in type and number the penalty in the matter before him should be significantly different. In in the South Australian matter the defendant was promoting his own business and his method of operation was aggressive and confrontational with personal contact and threatening detention for individuals in his attempts to prey on business to advance his. In the matter currently before the court the defendant was operating under instructions from her employer. Sending out the paperwork and material should have indicated that something was wrong. The defendant's matter was "starkly different" from the South Australian matter.
Visit the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland website for information on:
- Education and training
- Date of offence:
- Ipswich Magistrates Court
- David Shepherd
- s.189 Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- Fined $2,500
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: