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Increased penalties for WHS Act offences

11 Jan 2024 1:29 PM | Anonymous

Tougher penalties for offences under Commonwealth work health and safety laws are now in force across the Comcare jurisdiction.

The changes are part of the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Act that passed parliament in December 2023. The legislation amends the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) to include:

  • Significant increases to penalties for Category 1 offences:
    • $15 million for a body corporate or the Commonwealth (previously $3 million)
    • $3 million for a person conducting a business or undertaking or an officer (previously $600,000)
    • $1.5 million for any other person (previously $300,000).
  • Increasing all other WHS Act penalties by almost 40 per cent. The maximum penalties for Category 2 and 3 offences are now $2 million and $700,000 respectively for bodies corporate (previously $1.5 million and $500,000).
  • An indexing mechanism to increase WHS Act and Regulation penalties annually in line with the national Consumer Price Index.
  • New criminal responsibility provisions for bodies corporate and the Commonwealth.

The Closing Loopholes legislation also amends the WHS Act to introduce the offence of industrial manslaughter for causing a workplace death through negligent conduct or recklessness. The new offence will apply to officers and PCBUs. Taking effect on 1 July 2024, the offence carries maximum penalties of $18 million for bodies corporate or the Commonwealth and 25 years’ jail for individuals.

A further WHS Act amendment will establish a Family and Injured Workers Advisory Committee by the end of 2024. The Committee will provide advice to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, and Comcare, on the support needs of those affected by a serious workplace incident and help inform relevant policies and strategies.

More information

WHS laws are changing | Comcare


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