A Windang grandfather has won his unfair dismissal case after Port Kembla steelmaker BlueScope sacked him eight months ago.
Trevor Knowles, 64, had been working at the steelworks for more than three decades when BlueScope sacked him in October last year over a claimed safety breach.
Employed as a despatch operator, Mr Knowles was given a final warning in September 2018, after climbing on a wagon while a steel coil was being moved nearby.
"The company is concerned about your behaviour as a despatch operator and as an employee," a warning letter from the company stated.
A year later, on September 5, 2019, BlueScope alleged Mr Knowles lifted a coil that was not safely secured.
Following an investigation, Mr Knowles was sacked on October 1 last year.
The worker lodged an unfair dismissal application with the Fair Work Commission, stating his sacking was harsh and unjust because the incident did not warrant termination and he was not able to properly defend himself in the investigation.
He alleged BlueScope "failed to provide him with video footage of the coil throughout the production process" during the investigation.
A BlueScope representative told the commission the footage was not relevant and said Mr Knowles' breach "resulted in a serious risk to safety".
As a result the company had lost confidence with his ability to comply with safety procedures.
Fair Work Commissioner Bernie Riordan ordered that BlueScope reinstate Mr Knowles, finding the steelmaker did not have a valid reason to sack him.
Commissioner Riordan said there was no breach of the safety protocol, because its wording suggested it was only a safety hazard "if there is a risk of a fatality (or an injury)".
He found that "such an outcome was a virtual impossibility in this circumstance" and so ruled the sacking was unjust.
Mr Knowles said he would have to change his plans to retire in the next 12 months but was ready to head back to BlueScope.
"I can't wait to get back to work and hold no hard feelings," he said.