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.
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.
Policy for victims and persons adversely affected by crime
WorkSafe and the court system
Going to court
What to expect after a work-related death
WorkSafe's Family Liaison Officer
Victims of crime support services
Mandatory investigation request form
Office of Public Prosecutions: Information for victims of crimeExternal link
Victoria's new workplace manslaughter offences