WorkSafe and the court system

How incidents in the workplace can lead to prosecution in court.


Workplace incidents to prosecution in court

Duty holders must notify WorkSafe if there is an incident in a workplace that results in someone dying or requiring medical treatment.

We may decide to investigate these incidents to determine if any occupational health and safety laws, like the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act), have been broken.

After we investigate, WorkSafe will review the evidence and may file criminal charges against the accused. If you have been injured or you have a family member who has died because of a workplace accident, WorkSafe will contact you at important points of these processes.

All WorkSafe prosecutions begin in the Magistrates' Court. Some less serious offences, called summary offences, are heard and decided in the Magistrates' Court by a magistrate sitting alone.

Some charges are more serious. These are called indictable offences.

These charges may be heard in the Magistrates' Court or go on to the County Court or Supreme Court.

In the County Court or Supreme Court courts, charges are heard by a judge and panel of 12 jurors.

Each prosecution will have a number of scheduled court dates where the lawyers for both sides of the prosecution will appear in court to discuss the case. Some of these dates will be primarily administrative and you will not need to attend court. There will also be some court dates where evidence is presented to the court and witnesses are called. WorkSafe will tell you about court dates and times and explain the hearing taking place.

As a family member of someone who has died because of a workplace accident, you may be able to attend these hearings.

If you do want to attend, WorkSafe will help make arrangements to support you on the day. If you have provided a statement about the incident to WorkSafe or Victoria Police you may not be able to be in the courtroom before you give your evidence.

You can call the Family Liaison Officer to discuss if you would like to attend the hearing.

If you decide not to attend court, WorkSafe can let you know what happens.

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