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OHS

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DasWanderlust View Drop Down
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Joined: 08/August/2011
Location: UK
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  Quote DasWanderlust Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: OHS
    Posted: 08/August/2011 at 21:17
Hi guys, hope you don't mind me barging onto your forum but it seems like the kind of place I need.

I'm a Brit doing a little research on comparative health and safety legislation as it affects corporations and I was hoping someone out there could help me with information/sources.

I'm really trying to find out a little about sentencing of OHS offences in the commonwealth/states/territories. I'm looking for the objectives of sentencing, how penalties are calculated, the rationale behind sentences and whether public authorities over there get treated the same as private businesses. I know this all sounds a bit vague but any advice you could give me would be much appreciated.

I just posted this is the criminal law forum as they are often prosecuted as criminal offences but now I'm wondering if its more appropriate here so apologies if you're reading this as a double post.

Cheers,

Gwyn

rambler1 View Drop Down
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Joined: 01/May/2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 1918
  Quote rambler1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/August/2011 at 00:39
oh & s in this country at least in Victoria is covered by the oh&s act 2004 ( Victorian state legislation)

Gwyn you should follow this link

click here

gives you most of the answers

PS this is victoria and OH&S has a similar act in most other states

Edited by rambler1 - 09/August/2011 at 00:48
Luke 11 46: Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! For you load men with burdens that are difficult to carry, and you yourselves won't even lift one finger to help carry those burdens.

Tam1 View Drop Down
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Joined: 28/May/2011
Location: Australia
Posts: 43
  Quote Tam1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/August/2011 at 07:31
Currently, OH&S laws for private business vary between States and Territories, each has it's own method of determining culpability/penalties ect. The penalties for breaches handed down by the courts have varied greatly from state to state, even for similar breaches.

You would need to research each state individually. All states territories should have a OH&S website, with information on how their individual safety Acts are administered, here are a couple of them:
QLD
http://www.deir.qld.gov.au/workplace/

NSW
http://www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx

OHS for Commonwealth employees and employees of certain licensed corporations is administered by comcare under a Commonwealth Act. Which also has different penalties to the state/territory OHS statutes.This is their website:
http://www.comcare.gov.au/

There are also spext OHS statutes covering the mining industry in some states, which again have different enforcement & penalty structures. This is the link to mines safety Act for NSW
http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/minerals/safety/legislation/mines

There are moves under foot to have a nationally consistent approach to OH&S compliance and enforcement but at this time most states penalties are still determined under individual OH&S Acts. Some info here on that:
http://ohs.anu.edu.au/ohs/index.php

EDITED to make links clickable.






Edited by MartinO - 09/August/2011 at 11:25

DasWanderlust View Drop Down
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  Quote DasWanderlust Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/August/2011 at 07:55
Thank you guys, I really appreciate your help.

One more question, though, if I may. Anecdotally, have you heard of public authorities being prosecuted for health and safety breeches in the same way private companies might';

Tam1 View Drop Down
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Joined: 28/May/2011
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  Quote Tam1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/August/2011 at 08:23
If by Public Authority you mean a government organization or dept then historically there seems to be a difference in the severity of the penalties that get handed down. Both do get prosecuted, probably more prosecutions bought against private companies though.

I can think of a case in 2005 where Comcare under the Commonwealth OHS legislation, prosecuted the dept of immigration for 5 deaths (2 employees, 3 visitors) on one of their boats which sank. The boat was found to be un-sea worthy. The out come for the dept was a $242,000 fine.

Yet a couple of years before this a privately owned saw mill company in NSW was fined $270,000 plus the directer was personally fined around $29,000 for 1 death.

AJM48 View Drop Down
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Joined: 11/February/2011
Location: Australia
Posts: 176
  Quote AJM48 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/August/2011 at 11:56
I am not a lawyer but a computer consultant working on Workforce Management solutions

You should note that there are new national guidelines for OH&S penalties. Each state is now reviewing their legislation to attempt to have uniform regulations throughout Australia.

Victoria has been first to introduce changes, so looking at recent OH&S legislation for Victoria will give you the best state of this area of industrial law.

Broadly, you will see that penalties have increased greatly, the legislation is more specific on what constitutes negelect, but most importantly the law has made an about turn on onus of guilt.

With the older regs, if somebody was injured or there was a death, the onus was on the company to prove that they had procedures in place to prevent the incident, a presumption of guilt, the new regs require the enforcing body (Workcover etc) to prove the company was neglectful.

The new regs also make it clearer who is considered an employee (contractors, voluntary workers etc) and provide relief for NFP organisations.



Edited by AJM48 - 10/August/2011 at 11:58

Tam1 View Drop Down
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  Quote Tam1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/August/2011 at 15:30
Queensland Rail was a repeat offender. The Magistrate took QR’s previous convictions which involved fatalities into account when applying the large fine. Repeat offenders do often get hit harder.

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