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Financial penalties for breaching the WHS Acts& Regulations

 

All breaches to the OHS/WHS act will be investigated by the relevant authority, to determine that a breach has occurred and what action is deemed necessary, this includes potential prosecutions.

 

Each Australian state and territory has slightly different penalties and definitions for breaching the relevant Health and Safety act. The following information relates to the WHS Act 2012 (Harmonisation Laws).

 

Under the Harmonisation laws, there are 3 categories relating to breaches of the WHS act. These categories are:

 

Category 1: It is an offense under the WHS act to recklessly engage in conduct that exposes an individual(s) to a risk of death or serious injury or illness without reasonable excuse.

 

Category 2: It is an offense under the WHS act to fail to comply with a health and safety duty that exposes an individual(s) to a risk of death or serious injury or illness without reasonable excuse. This category is similar to a category 1 offense; however there is no requirement for the safety regulator is to prove the element of recklessness.

 

Category 3: All other breaches to the WHS act, that are not either a category 1 or category 2 offence.

 

Penalty for breach of health and safety duty offences

Category

Corporations

Individual as PCBU
or Officer

Individual as worker
or other

Category 1

$3 Million

$600,000.00,

5 years imprisonment or both

$300,000.00,

5 years imprisonment or both

Category 2

$1.5 Million

$300,000.00

$150,000.00

Category 3

$500,000.00

$100,000.00

$50,000.00

 

There are a number of other offenses that carry individual penalties under the WHS act, relating to the failure to meet specific requirements or duties.

 

Alternative penalties or remedies may also be applied by a court in addition to those listed above, this may include:

  • Adverse publicity orders
  • Restoration orders
  • Work Health and Safety project orders
  • Court-ordered work health and safety undertakings
  • Injunctions
  • Training orders

  

This information is available on the Safe Work Australia website (www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au), together with additional information relating to the penalties for breaching the OHS/WHS act. Further information can also be sourced within the relevant OHS/WHS act for each state or territory.