Sentencing and OHS prosecutions but few solutions

Most submissions to the inquiry into Sentencing Occupational Health and Safety Offences in Victoria are now publicly available.  They raise a lot of different issues and some grumbles even though the Sentencing Advisory Council provided some structure to the topics it wanted addressed.

A major purpose of any penalty is to deter harmful and damaging actions from being repeated.  SAC reiterates that any sentence 

  • deters the offender and others from committing similar offences;
  • punishes the offender in a just manner;
  • facilitates the rehabilitation of the offender;
  • denounces the behaviour that the offender engaged in, and
  • protects the community from the offender. (page 7)

The CFMEU’s Dr Gerry Ayers opens his submission with Deterrence by quoting Gunningham and Johnstone from 1999, who wrote:

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Questionable deterrence value in Industrial Manslaughter penalties

New South Wales is the latest Australian jurisdiction to introduce a penalty for Industrial Manslaughter (IM) in its occupational health and safety (OHS) laws. One of the primary aims of significant penalties like IM is to deter others from making similar negligent decisions related to workplace health and safety. But deterrence is a fickle beast.

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Day One – more useful than not

A short report on Day One* of the Australian Institute of Health and Safety’s (AIHS) National Conference in Melbourne. Given a previous blog article asking for new thinking, new approaches etc. Has the Day One satisfied me? Selectively, Yes.

The keynote speaker, Richard De Crespigny had an extraordinary tale to tell about safely landing a heavily damaged passenger aircraft over a decade ago. Some delegates would have been familiar with De Crespigny’s presentation as many of his points had already been made in a recent article in the AIHS’ journal. More on his presentation in a future article.

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“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Victoria’s Sentencing Advisory Council is conducting a public inquiry into sentencing and penalties for breaches of occupational health and safety (OHS). Public hearings are continuing, and the inquiry is receiving some well-deserved media attention.

ABC’s The Law Report recently devoted an episode to Industrial Manslaughter laws and the sentencing inquiry. The IM section of the episode was very familiar, but the sentencing inquiry was intriguing.

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