Summary Of Workplace Health & Safety Prosecutions

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Stephen Weber

| October 30 2019

Workplace Health & Safety Prosecutions Snapshot

In the 2017-2018 financial year, there were significant changes in the prosecutions undertaken by the Work Safe authorities.

Overall, we are seeing a significant increase in the number of prosecutions throughout Australia and an increase in the fines, both total and average, demonstrating the increase focus by the authorities and courts on motivating employers to meet their health and safety obligations. 

Click here to download a PDF of this prosecution summary (Includes a breakdown by State!)

Prosecution Summary

  • Average prosecution fine was $85,000, an average increase of around $14,000 from last year.
  • The number of prosecutions have either remained consistent or shown a significant increase, NSW showed the highest increase with 21 more prosecutions than the previous year, a 250% increase on the previous year.
  • Across the whole country we saw a 17% increase in prosecutions, this included:
    • Work At Height - Work at heights increasing to the #1 category of prosecutions,
    • Risk Assessment Failure - The number of prosecutions for failing to have a proper Risk Assessment increasing and this category having the highest maximum fine of $1.3 million.
    • 3 New Categories The introduction of fines in categories of Training, Safety in Design, Load Restraint, and Bullying/Stress/Harassment, with all three categories having an average fine of over $50,000.

Some other items worth noting:

  • Overall the total value of fines have increased by over $5.6 million dollars on the previous year.
  • In Queensland it is noted that 11 out of 51 prosecutions (22%) were against individuals and directors of companies, including workers, supervisors and sole traders who exposed themselves and others to risks of health and safety.
  • Victoria showed the highest change in the value of fines, decreasing the number of prosecutions over the year by 1, but increasing the value of fines by over $3 million, an increase on the average fine by $27,000.
  • In all cases were a $0 fine was allocated the individual or corporation has entered a good behaviour bond or enforceable undertaking and the cost to the individual/corporation is unknown.

Prosecution Types
Prosecution Graph Types

New Prosecution Types

Three new categories have been introduced. They are:

  1. Safety in Design
  2. Load Restraint
  3. Bullying/Stress/Harassment

The introduction of the new categories are in alignment with each jurisdictions Work Safe Authorities stated focus and the increasing obligations on businesses to ensure the management of health and safety for Chain of Responsibility, Safe Design and Mental Health.

 

Summary Health & Safety Prosecutions

Australia

Category

 

# Prosecutions

Min.

Fine

Max.

Fine

Av. Fine

Work at Heights

59

$0

$700,000

$69,759.78

Plant

32

$0

$1,137,525

$122,863,97

Guarding

23

$0

$195,000

$58,639.61

 

Traffic Management

19

$1,000

$375,000

$100,111

Chemicals

12

$0

$200,000

$67,746.4

Electrical

11

$0

$150,000

$39,237.73

Safe Systems of Work

11

$0

$390,000

$84,929.39

Training

11

$0

$177,349

$52,224.45

Risk Assessment

8

$10,000

$1,300,000

$222,670.57

Asbestos

8

$2,092

$175,000

$29,060.53

Improvement Notice

4

$2,000

$40,943

$24,427

Confined Space

4

$28,505

$260,000

$99,937.75

Safe Equipment

3

$60,000

$240,000

$125,000

Bullying/Harassment

3

$3,092

$314,000

$117,364

Load Restraint

3

$85,000

$150,000

$108,333

Excavations

2

$2,200

$8,000

$5,100

Safety in Design

1

$100,000

$380,000

$240,000

Failure to Notify

1

-

$8,624

 

Safe Workplace

1

-

$25,818

 

False Documents

1

-

$9,000

 

Fraud

1

-

$2,500

 

Health Monitoring

1

-

$2,000

 

Licence

1

-

$5,338

 

Manual Handling

1

-

$7,115

 

Total Number of Prosecutions - 223

Total Value of Fines – $17,873,164.51

Fine Per Prosecution - $80,874.05

 

Click here to download a PDF of this prosecution summary (Includes a breakdown by State!)

 

  • Data presented may be incomplete as it is extracted from the regulator’s web sites.
  • The categories have been defined by Safety Action in alignment with previous years benchmarking reports
  • Where multiple offences or categories of offence were present in a prosecution, the primary failing or root cause of the incident was selected as the category of prosecution to prevent duplication of data.

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