WHS Act: Offences & Penalties

Published:09/11/2018

WHS Act: Offences & Penalties

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (the "WHS Act") aims to protect workers against harm to their health safety or welfare through the elimination or minimisation of risks in the workplace.

Failure to comply with the Act can result in fines, imprisonment or both. Offences under the Act are penalised under 3 different categories as further described below.

Category 1 - Reckless Conduct

A person engages in reckless conduct if:

  • the person has a health and safety duty; and
  • the person, without reasonable excuse, engages in conduct that exposes the individual to whom the duty is owed to a risk of death or serious injury or illness; and
  • the person is reckless as to the risk to an individual of death or serious injury or illness.

Under the Act, the penalty for a category 1 offence committed by an individual is $300,000 or 5 years imprisonment or both. In the case of an offence committed by an individual as a person conducting a business or undertaking or as an officer of a person conducting a business or undertaking, the potential penalty is $600,000 or 5 years imprisonment or both and in the case of an offence committed by a body corporate the penalty is $3,000,000.


Category 2 - Failure to comply with health and safety duty

A person commits a category 2 offence if:

  • the person has a health and safety duty; and
  • the person fails to comply with that duty; and
  • the failure exposes an individual to a risk of death or serious injury or illness.

Under the Act, the penalty for a category 2 offence committed by an individual is $150,000. In the case of an offence committed by an individual as a person conducting a business or undertaking or as an officer of a person conducting a business or undertaking the penalty is $300,000 and in the case of an offence committed by a body corporate the penalty is $1,500,000.


Category 3 - Failure to comply with health and safety duty

A person commits a category 3 offence if:

  • the person has a health and safety duty; and
  • the person fails to comply with that duty.

Under the Act, the penalty for a category 3 offence committed by an individual is $50,000. In the case of an offence committed by an individual as a person conducting a business or undertaking is $100,000 and in the case of an offence committed by a body corporate the penalty is $500,000.

We note that there is a separate workplace health and safety act for every state that takes into account the provisions in the WHS Act that have been summarised above. This article is not legal or personal advice and only takes account of a small section of the Act.


How Coverforce can help

Our experienced Workplace Solutions team offer a range of services to assist your business in the efficient management of your workers compensation premiums, HR and WHS risks.

Just some of the ways we can assist include:

  • reviewing workers compensation premiums, classification and claims
  • workers compensation claims and injury management advice
  • developing and implementing policies and processes that assist you in recruiting the right people for your business
  • embedding safe working processes and the identification of risks and hazards in your workplace
  • identifying and closing compliance gaps
  • implementing policies and procedures that provide guidelines for performance and behavioural expectations

To find out more about how Coverforce Workplace Services can assist your business contact the team on (02) 9376 7979 today.

Are you looking for expert risk advice and great value cover for your business? Call us to speak to a Coverforce insurance broker today.

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