SafeWork SA

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Offence penalties

For a breach of duties the main categories of criminal offence penalties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) (the WHS Act) are:

  • Category 1 - reckless conduct that exposes an individual to whom a duty is owed to a risk of death or serious injury or illness that is engaged in without reasonable excuse
  • Category 2 - failure to comply with a health and safety duty that exposes an individual to a risk of death or serious injury or illness
  • Category 3 - failure to comply with a health and safety duty.
Maximum penalties set according to the type of duty holder convicted of the offence and the category of offence
Duty holder Category 1 Category 2 Category 3
Individual worker or other person at the workplace $300,000 or 5 years imprisonment or both $150,000 $50,000
Person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) or officer of a PCBU $600,000 or 5 years imprisonment or both $300,000 $100,000
Body corporate or government body $3,000,000 $1,500,000 $500,000

Prosecutors must prove the relevant elements of the offence and in the case of a Category 1 offence, that the conduct was reckless and without reasonable excuse.

Exemptions under the Act from prosecution for certain duty of care offences are:

  • volunteers (unless they failed to comply with a duty applicable to a worker or other person in the workplace)
  • unincorporated associations (however officers or members of an unincorporated association may be liable for a failure to comply with a duty)
  • Ministers of the Crown and an elected member of a local authority.

Other offences

The WHS Act has a number of legislative objects, including:

  • protecting workers and others from harm to their health, safety and welfare
  • establishing consultation arrangements in the workplace
  • encouraging constructive participation in health and safety by unions and employer organisations
  • providing an effective enforcement regime.

Reflecting these objectives, the Act contains offences associated with:

We may also issue an expiation notice without taking the offender to Court.