Safety Fines, Charges and Suspended Sentences

Across Australia companies face fines,  individual managers face criminal charges and a part time teacher gets a suspended jail sentence.

NSW 7 managers have been charged and could face 2 years in jail for an accident that resulted in the death of an employee. If it is found that the accident and resulting death were foreseeable jail terms may be a reality for these managers.

QLD a part-time teacher has received a 12 month suspended sentence over the death of a student he was supervising during an agricultural skills class. The 60 year old teacher claimed to have carried out a risk assessment which the court found to be woefully inadequate.

VIC employer to stand trial after 2 employees were assaulted at a clients premises. Under s.21of the Act the employer failed to “provide and maintain so far as practicable for employees a working environment that is safe and without risk to health.”

SA $153,000 fine for an employer after an employee was killed as the result of explosives detonating prematurely. $20,000 in compensation is also to be paid to the deceased employees family. SA expects to increase threefold the existing fine schedule. The prosecution took place for failing to provide a safe system of work, and a safe working environment and failing to provide adequate information, instruction and supervision.

Whilst there is no doubt that injury and death of employees is not acceptable it will remain to be seen whether jail terms of individuals will be a deterrent for workplace safety accidents. Higher penalties and fines have not been enough to save lives at work will the threat of jail work any better at persuading managers to take a greater stand when it comes to workplace safety. I fear that all it will do is fill our already over crowded jails with managers who do not have the skills or the resources to prevent workplace accidents.

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

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