Resources: Blog

Self employer convicted and given jail time following death of worker

Blog
|

Reckless

Conviction under work health and safety legalisation can result in significant fines and/or imprisonment.

Work health and safety legislation in Australia places significant duties and obligations on employers to ensure the health and safety of workers and others in the workplace.

Breaches of work health and safety duties constitute offences under work health and safety legislation and can lead to prosecution by a regulator. Conviction under work health and safety legalisation can result in significant fines and/or imprisonment.

The recent prosecution and conviction of an owner-operator in Victoria demonstrates the serious consequences that breaches of work health and safety obligations can have on businesses and individuals.

A Victorian Magistrates’ Court found the owner of a scrap metal business guilty of breaching the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) (OHS Act) after a worker was fatally crushed by a metal bin.

The company owner was operating a forklift to lift a metal bin which the worker was standing in. When the metal bin was raised in the air, the worker fell through the corroded base of the bin before the bin itself fell from the forklift tines on top of the worker. The company owner did not, and had never, held a forklift licence and the bin itself had not been properly secured to the forklift.

Worksafe Victoria commenced proceedings against the company owner for breaches of the OHS Act, specifically:

  • The duty as a self-employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons are not exposed to work health and safety risks; and
  • The duty not to recklessly engage in conduct that places or may place another person in danger of serious injury without lawful excuse.

The company owner pleaded guilty to both breaches and, in December 2018, was sentenced to six months gaol and was ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 plus costs.

This conviction in Victoria is the first for a breach of the duty not to recklessly endanger a worker and indicates the seriousness with which the regulators and the courts will take a failure to comply with work health and safety duties. As noted above, a breach of work health and safety legislation is a criminal offence and could result in criminal conviction with penalties including fines or imprisonment or both for individuals and officers.

 

Information provided in this blog is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Workplace Law does not accept liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the content of this blog, or from links on this website to any external website. Where applicable, liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

Similar articles

Company vicariously liable for injury resulting from skylarking supervisor

All in good fun

Enjoying the company of your colleagues is something most people hope to find in the workplace. It can make work much more enjoyable and lead to lasting friendships. However, fun in the workplace can cross a line when it takes the form of dangerous skylarking or roughhousing.

Read more...

Brisbane company first to be convicted of industrial manslaughter

Brisbane company first to be convicted of industrial manslaughter

Workplace fatalities are tragic and devastating events. In order to reflect the seriousness of these incidents, some jurisdictions across Australia have amended their work health and safety laws to establish the offence of industrial manslaughter, where the negligent conduct by a person conducting a business or undertaking or officers causes the death of a worker.

Read more...

Employer’s disciplinary process didn’t force resignation

I'll go first

The commencement of a disciplinary process against an employee is not an insignificant matter. It serves to notify an employee that their employer has serious concerns about their employment; whether that is the standard of the employee’s performance, their conduct or their behaviour.

Read more...

The onus and presumption in adverse action matters

It’s on you

Under the general protections provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act), it is unlawful for a person to take adverse action against another person for a proscribed reason. One of the features of the general protections provisions under the FW Act is the presumption that adverse action was taken for a proscribed reason unless it is proven that the adverse action was not taken for that reason.

Read more...

Notice of termination in the employment contract

Put it in writing

When it comes to engaging new employees or promoting existing employees, it is crucial that employers prepare and review contracts of employment to ensure that they accurately reflect the terms which will govern an employee’s employment.

Read more...

Termination of employment letters

In your letter

A termination of employment letter serves a significant purpose in bringing the employment relationship to an end.

Read more...

Let's talk

please contact our directors to discuss how ouR expertise can help your business.

We're here to help

Contact Us
Let Workplace Law become your partner in Workplace Relations.

Signup to receive the latest industry updates with commentary from the Workplace Law team direct to you inbox.