Victorian employers fined $16m for safety breaches in 2023

Monday, 05 February, 2024

Victorian employers fined $16m for safety breaches in 2023

Employers across Victoria have been reminded that they face serious legal consequences if they put workers at risk, after WorkSafe completed 153 successful health and safety prosecutions in 2023. The total of $16,182,957 in fines imposed by the courts in 2023 for breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Dangerous Goods Act included three separate seven-figure penalties and a further 25 prosecutions attracting fines of at least $100,000.

Offences involving the risk of a fall from height continue to be a key compliance priority and were the subject of 39 prosecutions and fines of almost $2 million. There were 25 prosecutions for unsafe machinery, including inadequate guarding, 15 prosecutions relating to the risk of being crushed by or between objects and 13 involving powered mobile plant such as forklifts. More than half of WorkSafe’s health and safety prosecutions last year were against employers in the construction (52) and manufacturing (38) industries, followed by transport, postal and warehousing (11) and wholesale trade (10).

17 of WorkSafe’s successful prosecutions and $6.3 million in fines imposed by the courts last year related to a workplace fatality. Multiple duty holders were also prosecuted for offences involving workplace bullying and sexual harassment, including several matters involving a number of young and vulnerable workers. WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said inspectors and investigators will continue to target workplaces where harm is most likely to occur, adding that the safest places to work are those where employers accept that injuries and fatalities are preventable and priority is placed on doing what they can to protect their people.

“WorkSafe will use every enforcement tool at its disposal to hold to account employers who put the health and safety of their workers or others at risk. Employers must have systems and processes in place to identify, assess and respond to hazards and associated risks to both the physical and mental health of their workers. This includes ensuring there is adequate training and supervision and that workers are encouraged to speak up or ask questions when they have concerns for their safety,” Beer said.

WorkSafe also accepted seven enforceable undertakings from duty holders committing to spend a combined $1.2 million to improve workplace health and safety knowledge and outcomes in their respective industries.

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