NT WorkSafe Failures Spark MUA Call for Big Overhaul of Marine Safety Investigations

The Maritime Union of Australia Northern Territory Branch is demanding the head of NT WorkSafe be stood down after he failed to act properly over a spate of horrifying workplace accidents.

Dozens of union members will rally outside the NT WorkSafe Darwin office at 3.30pm today calling on the government to appoint a new Safety Regulator, willing to take on deceitful bosses and stand up for safer workplaces.

MUA NT says the head of NT WorkSafe Stephen Gelding must be forced to resign after failing to prosecute employers over serious work safety breaches, some which cost workers their lives.

MUA NT Branch Secretary Thomas Mayor said marine worker safety, and more widely public safety, was not being defended or protected by the very body set up to do so.

“From a wharf collapse and boat collisions, to worker injuries - some tragically resulting in deaths - NT WorkSafe continually fails to investigate thoroughly nor to prosecute,” Mr Mayor said.

“The final straw for the MUA was the death of a seafarer in January. Workers have lost faith in NT WorkSafe’s ability to enforce the requirement for safe workplaces.

“Time and again the employer gets away with deceit and disregard for safety. The NT Government must appoint a strong Regulator who will be harsh on employers who put profit before the lives of mothers, fathers, sons and daughters.”

Even the NT Coroner slammed NT WorkSafe in his report last year into the death of a young fisherman in 2013, concluding: “The death of Ryan Donoghue demands a response and yet there has been none.”

“That no Commonwealth, State or Territory regulatory authority has pursued any action against the employer is most unsatisfactory. The lack of action beggars belief and is shameful,” ruled Coroner Greg Cavanagh.

NT WorkSafe even failed to act adequately when an entire stretch of a Hudson Creek Wharf collapsed, endangering dozens of workers.

“The wharf clearly collapsed, and we raised our concern with the structural integrity of the infrastructure yet NT WorkSafe refused to inspect, condemn or modify the operational area,” Mr Mayor said.

“NT WorkSafe wrote no penalties to the owner/operator of Shorelands, who also sits on the NT WorkSafe advisory board.”