A policy position introduced late last year by WorkSafe to make employers’ compliance information available to union officials on request has backfired.
Last August, WorkSafe Victoria advised employer associations and unions that they will commence making copies of Inspector’s Entry Reports and Notices (i.e. Improvement and Prohibition Notices) to ‘interested parties’ on request. WorkSafe advised that any personal information contained in these documents will be redacted before the documents are made available.
Master Builders strongly objected to WorkSafe’s policy and made known its concerns about the potential for employers’ compliance information to be misused by the CFMEU for propaganda purposes, particularly on social media.
In one of the first instances of the policy being applied the CFMEU have misused and abused the policy to attack not a builder, but WorkSafe themselves.
CFMEU State Secretary John Setka recently targeted WorkSafe through Twitter and Facebook, because a WorkSafe official refused to make copies of Entry Reports available to the CFMEU on the basis that the union did not have coverage of the workers at the site. Setka went so far as to direct his tweets to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
WorkSafe has clearly failed to appreciate the risks of making these documents available to the CFMEU and how the policy can affect the integrity and reputation of its own inspectors. The CFMEU already had a history of abusing WorkSafe’s regulatory activities through social media.
Master Builders has sought clarification from WorkSafe on the sections of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 upon which it is relying for its policy position. Based on the response received from WorkSafe, Master Builders believes the policy position is flawed and open to legal challenge – and has subsequently obtained legal opinion affirming this view.
Master Builders recommends that any members experiencing misuse of WorkSafe Entry Reports and Notices should contact the OHS Unit on (03) 9411 4569 for advice.