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Company fined for discrimination after worker raises safety concerns

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Date: 
Thursday, 8 September, 2022 - 12:15
Category: 
Incidents & prosecutions
Location: 
Victoria

A bus company has been fined $30,000 after giving a formal written warning to a bus driver for reporting safety concerns to WorkSafe Victoria.

Transdev Melbourne was sentenced, without conviction, in the Melbourne County Court after being found guilty of a charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for discrimination against an employee for raising health and safety issues.

The court heard that Transdev gave a bus driver a written warning in September 2018 after he contacted WorkSafe about safety concerns regarding buses.

The court also heard that the driver had previously informed his supervisor that a bus was unroadworthy due to a missing door safety module. He was instructed to drive it anyway but refused.

After reporting a separate safety issue on another bus a few days later, the driver was asked to attend a meeting with his manager, where he was advised that he had breached company policy by contacting WorkSafe and that his reports to WorkSafe amounted to misconduct.

Workers who reported safety concerns were protected from discrimination under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, said WorkSafe Victoria executive director health and safety Narelle Beer.

“Every Victorian worker has the right to a safe workplace and that includes the right to report health and safety concerns to WorkSafe, their employer, or to their workplace health and safety representative or committee member,” Beer said.

“It’s not always easy to speak out about safety issues at work, but it’s vital that workers feel empowered to raise safety concerns without fear of discrimination or unfair repercussions.”