- CEPU, Daniel Bessell
- Non-compliance with right of entry laws
The Federal Circuit and Family Court on 17 June 2022 penalised the CEPU and its official Daniel Bessell $72,000 after Mr Bessell was found to have acted in an improper manner by failing to comply with site occupational health and safety requirements during a visit to a Buddina construction site in Queensland in July 2018.
While attending the six-storey residential and commercial development known as the Hedge Project, Mr Bessell refused multiple requests that he be accompanied by the project manager and health, safety and environment adviser and to return to the muster point.
He also refused several police requests to leave the site.
The Court found Mr Bessell’s conduct on 3 July 2018 at the Hedge Project site contravened the right of entry provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009.
Mr Bessell was penalised $12,000 and the CEPU $60,000. The penalties are close to the maximum allowable penalty for a contravention of the Fair Work Act.
In considering the seriousness of the contraventions and the need for deterrence Judge Vasta said:
“In this matter, there were clear OHS requirements that were spelled out to [Mr Bessell]…. These requirements were not established to hamper any individual on the worksite. These requirements were established to ensure the safety of all individuals, especially visitors, on the worksite.”
“To totally disregard these requirements and to venture off at one’s own win is extremely dangerous conduct on a construction worksite. To try and justify such behaviour by attempting to portray an urgent, life-threatening situation is simply laughable especially when one considers the collateral evidence of what was actually done by [Mr Bessell] on the worksite. It would be extremely ironic if [Mr Bessell] were truly attempting to act in the name of safety by totally “trashing” the safety measures that were in place.”
In addressing Mr Bessell’s refusal of police requests to leave the site, Judge Vasta said:
“To ignore the request of the police is behaviour that must be deterred in the strongest possible terms. It matters not whether [Mr Bessell] truly believed that he was “in the right” and the police were wrong; the maintenance of law and order is sacrosanct. There were other avenues for [Mr Bessell] to challenge what the police were saying rather than maintaining the belligerent stand that he did.”
|Penalties awarded against||Penalties awarded|
|Total penalties awarded||$72,000|