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New OSH Powers Smack of Envy

6 December, 2002 PR159/2002

New OSH Powers Smack of Envy

Farmers are rightly concerned about Government proposals to give individual OSH inspectors the right to fine employers and employees on the basis of their financial situation, says Charlie Pedersen, Federated Farmers Vice President.

These proposals are contained in the Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Bill likely to be passed before Christmas.

"Federated Farmers is urging the Government to remove the proposal to give OSH inspectors the powers to pass out fines, or withdraw the Bill and allow for further consultation," said Mr Pedersen.

"If passed in its current form the Bill would give OSH inspectors the right to fine employers or employees between $100 and $4,000. For employees one criterion is their "financial circumstance" and for employers both their "financial circumstance" and the "size of the business" will be taken into account.

"Federated Farmers acknowledges that an infringement notice can only be given after prior warning of the offence. However it appears that prior warning lasts for the rest of an employee's working life and for the life of the business. This fly's in the face of natural justice.

"These proposals can be likened to giving individual police officers the power to issue traffic infringements depending on the value of the car and the income of the driver.

"This Bill should not be rushed through before Christmas. The public must be made aware of its draconian implications and be given the opportunity for further input."


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