Defence of Worksafe and Occupational Health and Safety Prosecutions
A person may be charged with a criminal offence under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS Act), in circumstances where an employee or contractor has been injured or killed, as the result of a work-related accident.
Offences under the Act
Recklessly endangering persons.
Failure to provide and maintain a safe working environment.
Exposing non-employees to risks.
Failure to take reasonable care and comply with health and safety requirements.
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Penalties under the Act
The most likely outcome for these types of offences is a fine, and in most cases a very large fine. However, the court can impose a range of other penalties including a term of imprisonment. When considering what penalty to impose the court will consider a range of factors including the following:
The circumstances of the case including the nature of the breach, and the foreseeability of risk.
Any previous convictions and safety records.
The scale of harm and risk.
The role of the offender in the breach.
The offender’s conduct following the offence, further offending and/or safety upgrades.
The presence of any remorse.
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Leanne Warren is an accredited criminal law expert specialising in offences under the OHS Act.