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WorkSafe Victoria Review of 2022 and a Peek into the Future

Posted by Richard Forster on 8 February 2023

A review of 2022 by WorkSafe Victoria has revealed that more than 120 employers were prosecuted and fined for safety breaches last year and WorkSafe is warning employers who continue to ignore well-known safety measures that they risk joining the 123 companies and directors fined for flouting workplace safety laws in 2022.

Fourteen of those companies were hit with six-figure penalties for breaching the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act, with the total of all fines imposed by the courts $5,588,750 - Source WorkSafe Victoria.

With a heavy focus likely on managing psychosocial risks in the 2023 it will be interesting to see how this affects the prosecution landscape going forward.

A breakdown of 2022 offences shows

  • working at heights offences - 35 duty holders prosecuted and fin
  • inadequate or absent guarding - 23 prosecutions and fines
  • unsafe use of machinery - 18 prosecutions and fines
  • forklifts – 11 prosecutions and fines

Multiple employers were also fined for offences involving electric shocks, unsafe crane use and failing to keep young workers between the ages of 16 and 20 safe. 

In line with previous years, construction (47) and manufacturing (36) matters accounted for two thirds of WorkSafe's workplace safety prosecutions. These two industries also accounted for more than a quarter of all accepted worker compensation claims in 2022.

Some of the major prosecutions are as follows:

  • Road tanker manufacturer Marshall Lethlean Industries Pty Ltd was fined $600,000 after a young apprentice died from asphyxiation while working inside a tanker at a Cranbourne West factory in 2018;
  • Peter Stoitse Transport Pty Ltd was fined $490,000 following the death of a truck driver in Gippsland in 2018;
  • Stone importer Australia Rong Hua Fu Pty Ltd (RHF Stone) was fined $475,000 after a worker was fatally crushed at a Dingley Village warehouse in 2020;

The above costs do not include separate costs that may have been incurred following any civil actions. Fatalities occurring after 1st July 2020 would also be investigated under the OHS Act 2004 workplace manslaughter provisions as applicable. This carries a maximum prison sentence of 25 years and a maximum fine of $18.4 million dollars.

Looking ahead into 2023 in Victoria there is the expectation of new legislation and an accompanying compliance code that covers psychological health at work.

Author:Richard Forster


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