In Victoria, a charge-sheet containing charges for alleged breaches of workplace safety laws (such as occupational health and safety laws, dangerous goods laws and/or heavy vehicle national laws) will be served on a corporate accused’s registered address – which may be a company’s accountant’s office address. The corporate accused will be summonsed, which requires an appearance at Court to answer the charge(s) directed at it as stated in the charge-sheet, at the date and time specified in the summons.
Individuals, including officers (as defined under the Corporations Act 2001), may also be prosecuted for breaches of workplace safety laws.
From 1 July 2023, the maximum financial penalty for a corporation for each breach of duty under the Victorian occupational health and safety laws is $1,730,790 and $346,158 for an individual. Officers and other individuals may be exposed to potential imprisonment for workplace manslaughter or reckless endangerment offences.
Officers and other individuals are unable to be insured or indemnified for a penalty for a breach of the occupational health and safety laws in Victoria.
Individuals may face criminal convictions and imprisonment for workplace safety breaches, and there are significant financial penalties for corporations.
The charge-sheet and summons will look something like this extract below:
If you receive a charge-sheet and summons on behalf of your client, it is critically important that you send it to your client immediately, so that your client can take appropriate steps including:
- obtain legal advice on the charges and prospects;
- check the charges and particulars for compliance with criminal procedure laws and rules;
- arrange separate legal representation for individuals, if required;
- prepare for the first court mention hearing – the location, date and time will be listed in the summons; and
- obtain a copy of the prosecution brief prior to the first court mention which contains the materials the prosecution intends to rely on in prosecuting the charges.
KHQ Lawyers has a dedicated specialist workplace safety team. We can provide legal support and representation at court in the event of any prosecution for breaches of workplace safety laws. Our safety team has obtained favourable results for businesses in manufacturing, building and construction, and transport and logistics, who face charges for breaches of workplace safety laws including the withdrawal of prosecutions and reduction of charges, non-convictions and low penalty outcomes. Our team can also assist with all workplace safety legal advice including psychosocial safety duties and obligations and assisting clients during WorkSafe regulatory investigations.
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