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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters



OSH Tracker

Department of Labour v Whitehead (DC, 15/12/98)

OSH Tracker

Defendant:
Paul Ivan Whitehead
In an unusual case, PAUL IVAN WHITEHEAD was fined $600 under s48(a) for deceiving an OSH inspector. In March 1998 OSH investigated following an accident at his employer’s premises relating to an unguarded water test rig. Whitehead, manufacturing data controller and health and safety adviser for the company, provided a different workplace inspection checklist to the inspector from that later found on the company’s file. Both checklists were dated February 1996. The checklist supplied to OSH had additional material relating to the test rig. Whitehead admitted falsifying the report. (Marton DC, 15 December) 
Industry:
Not Elsewhere Included
Sub-Industry:
None
Risk:
Machinery (trapped, crushed, cuts)
Harm:
Injury
Penalty Amount:
$600.00
Reparation Amount:
$0.00
Appeared in Safeguard issue 55

Judgment Text

ORAL JUDGMENT OF JUDGE B R L LOVEGROVE 
Judge B R L Lovegrove
Mr Whitehead, the charge is, without reasonable cause, deceiving a Health and Safety Inspector while the Inspector was lawfully performing a function under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, that charge being laid under Section 48(a) and also 50(b) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. 
What was in issue here would have to be regarded as a blatant deception in respect of the recording of information that the informant was bound to rely on and in circumstances where one has to conclude that the only reason for deception was in order to secure some sort of advantage or benefit. If would not otherwise have been obtained but for the deception. It seems to me, in those circumstances, while there is no case before me which is on all fours with the one that is in issue here, that it is really quite impossible for me to consider going below the range which is generally accepted as being appropriate in the case of a Section 48(a) prosecution. It seems to me that in these circumstances it is incumbent on me to fix a fines penalty which has regard to the fact that what we have here was a deception and an improper deception, to reflect an element of general deterrence so as to deter others who might be inclined to provide mis-information. 
Also taking into account all the matters that the Court is bound to take account of, those matters being specifically defined in the case of Department of Labour v Spa & Company Limited which has been referred to the Court and which is almost invariable the authority which is referred to. 
I have regard to these particulars matters and they have been aptly outlined by Mr Woodbridge on your behalf. Certainly there was an early acknowledgement of liability on your part. There was the early entry of a guilty plea. There is an indication, from the informant, of demeanor on your part which was consistent with remorse and appropriate degree of contrition and it is clear that you sent an apology to the informant and, indeed as was appropriate, apologised to your employer who was also implicated in the accident which occurred that has given rise to these proceedings. 
It is clear that you are to be seen as someone who has good standing in the community, you have been working 30 years for your employer, you have been entrusted with the task of being Safety Officer and really this offence is seen to be as something in the nature of a glitch in the course of an otherwise blameless career. There is no previous offending and that, of course, is why it is possible to say that this offence is to be seen as a glitch in the course of an otherwise blameless career. 
The Court must necessarily proceed in a relatively robust way in quantifying a penalty having regard to the lack of specificity in respect of the sort of level of fine which has been meted out in the past in respect of this specific kind of offending but I have received an indication of tariffs that have applied in the case of Section 48(a) offending. 
I am aware of the range that has been advanced as appropriate and taking into account all those matters, you will be on this charge convicted and fined $600.00. You are ordered to pay Court Costs of $130.00 and solicitors fees of $150.00. 

From OSH Tracker

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