November 10, 2017

Work Health and Safety in Australia: Year in Review 2017

It has been an eventful year for legal developments in the health and safety space in Australia. This year has seen significant increases in organisational penalties being handed down in courts around the country for these offences as well as the continuation of the trend for officers of smaller companies, closer to the day to day management of work to find themselves subject of officer prosecutions. The exercise of police powers running parallel to health and safety regulators' exercising their functions continues to gather apace with the trend no longer limited to a novelty in a single jurisdiction.

Into this increasingly complex landscape, we have witnessed the further unravelling of harmonisation of WHS Laws across the country as a number of States develop jurisdiction-specific responses to law reform to manage challenges as varied as response to multiple fatality events like Dreamworld and Eagle Farm Racecourse (and the appropriate role for industrial manslaughter) to compliance with improvement and prohibition notices and incident notification and site preservation requirements. 

In this Report, current as at 10 November 2017, we provide you with a snapshot of findings and trends around the country in the following over the last 12 months: 

  • completed published prosecutions of organisations, officers and workers under health and safety laws
  • the acceptance of enforceable undertakings, and
  • significant developments in health and safety law reform.

We also explore:

  • enforcement and law reform developments to watch out for in 2018, and
  • some final observations on responding to the trends emerging in 2017.

See link below to download our full PDF report.