WorkSafe prosecutions

This guidance is about how WorkSafe Victoria decides whether or not to begin a prosecution following a workplace injury or death.


What is a WorkSafe prosecution?

After WorkSafe has investigated the incident, charges can be filed and hearings heard in the same courts as other criminal matters.

Following a workplace incident or work related death WorkSafe may issue charges for breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act), the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 and the Equipment (Public Safety Act) 1994.

Charges can be against a person, an employer, a company, a labour hire company, supplier or manufacturer.

Deciding on whether or not to prosecute

Following a WorkSafe investigation a WorkSafe lawyer will consider the evidence and decide whether to take enforcement action such as filing charges. Worksafe may issue a caution. A caution is a formal warning that the OHS Act has been breached and puts the accused on notice that any further breaches will result in a prosecution. This process is called a legal review.

WorkSafe may get advice from, or consult with, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) when considering which enforcement action to take and will consider if:

  • there is sufficient evidence to support enforcement action
  • the enforcement action is in the public interest

More information about how this decision is made can be found in WorkSafe's General Prosecution Guidelines.

What happens if WorkSafe cannot begin a prosecution?

The Family Liaison Officer and the WorkSafe lawyer will talk to you if WorkSafe decides not to begin a prosecution. They will provide you with as much information about this decision as possible. WorkSafe takes decisions about filing charges very seriously particularly if there has been a death. The Family Liaison Officer will talk to you about this decision and the next steps.

Seeking legal advice

Whether or not WorkSafe prosecutes, you may have other legal options available to you. You should seek your own legal advice to find out what these options may be.

WorkSafe cannot provide any advice in relation to the merits of any civil proceedings.

The Law Institute of Victoria can recommend several lawyers in your area. Visit Find a Lawyer Legal Referral Service in Related information.

WorkSafe's Family Liaison Officer

WorkSafe's Family Liaison officer can guide families and injured workers through the WorkSafe investigation and legal process.

Related information