WorkSafe investigations

Understanding the investigation process after a serious workplace injury or fatality.


Understanding the investigation process after a serious workplace injury or fatality

WorkSafe investigates offences under Victoria's Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and other OHS laws.

These laws are there to:

  • keep everyone in Victorian workplaces healthy and safe
  • eliminate or reduce workplace health and safety risks
  • make sure the health and safety of other persons is not at risk

WorkSafe may investigate following a death, serious injury or an identified risk to health and safety at a workplace.

After an investigation, WorkSafe can issue charges against the accused (a person or Body corporates) for breaches of the OHS Laws.

If you think a workplace incident has happened that is an offence under the OHS Laws you can ask WorkSafe to investigate.

What happens during a WorkSafe investigation?

If WorkSafe investigates a serious workplace incident, a WorkSafe investigator will start the investigation.

During the investigation they may:

  • ask people what happened. This may include witnesses to the incident, other employees, the employer and experts
  • collect evidence
  • look at employment, training, maintenance and medical records

A WorkSafe investigation can take many months. The family liaison officer is the point of information.

Making a statement

If you witnessed the incident or have relevant information, the investigator may ask you for a signed witness statement. This statement tells us what you saw or know about the incident.

The WorkSafe investigator will keep a record of your statement, which will form a part of WorkSafe's brief.

If charges are filed, a copy of the brief is given to the accused.

You should be familiar with the details of your statement in case you are asked to give evidence at court. A copy of your statement will be available if needed.

Legal review

When WorkSafe's investigation is complete, we send it to the WorkSafe legal team for review.

The legal team — using the General Prosecution guide — will look at all the evidence and decide if enforcement action is needed.

If there is enough evidence and it is in the public interest, WorkSafe will begin a prosecution by filing charges against the accused.

If there is not enough evidence to prosecute or it is not in the public interest to prosecute, WorkSafe may issue a formal caution instead.

The legal team may also work with the Office of Public Prosecutions in making this decision.

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