Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions

Safety

Safety

Commonwealth crimes relating to safety can arise in a variety of areas such as civil aviation, workplace health and safety, consumer product safety and in connection with offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas storage facilities. 

  • Examples include transporting dangerous goods by civil aviation operators, breaches of regulations designed to ensure the safety of both passengers and airspace, supplying goods that do not comply with product safety standards, and failure to take all reasonable steps to ensure safe workplaces.

Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2011

On 1 January 2012, the new Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2011 offences came into effect. The WHS Act contains a number of offences and, in particular, 3 categories that relate to the failure to comply with a health and safety duty:

  • category 1 offence—a person engaging in conduct that exposes an individual to whom a duty is owed to a risk of death or serious injury being reckless to the risk
  • category 2 offence—a person failing to comply with a duty that exposes an individual to risk of death or serious injury
  • category 3 offence—a person failing to comply with a duty.

Key legislation

Main offences

  • s.31 Work Health and Safety Act 2011—reckless conduct (category 1)
  • s.32 Work Health and Safety Act 2011—failure to comply with health and safety duty (category 2)
  • s.33 Work Health and Safety Act 2011—failure to comply with health and safety duty (category 3)

Penalties

The maximum penalties for these offences depend on the defendant and are:

 Category 1Category 2Category 3
Individual$300,000/5 years imprisonment$150,000$50,000
Person/officer of a person conducting business or undertaking$600,000/5 years imprisonment$300,000$100,000
Body Corporate$3,000,000$1,500,000$500,000

The WHS Act provides for a number of sentencing orders in addition to those available under Part 1B of the Crimes Act 1914, including adverse publicity orders, orders for restoration, work health and safety project orders, release on the giving of a court-ordered WHS undertaking, injunctions, and training orders.

Defence/exceptions

Section 34 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 contains a number of exceptions to the offences in certain circumstances, which relate to volunteers and unincorporated associations.

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