Chapter 4

Investigations

4.1
Following an industrial death, a number of regulatory and judicial responses can be initiated. These can include a police investigation, a work health and safety (WHS) regulator investigation, a workers' compensation claim, a prosecution, a common law claim and a coronial inquest. Differences exist in the way these processes operate from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.1
4.2
This chapter will examine the effectiveness of the investigation process following an industrial death. The matters covered include:
the quality of investigations; and
cross-jurisdictional investigations.
4.3
The chapter will also briefly touch upon the importance of regulators being adequately trained, funded and resourced to conduct preventative activities.

Quality of investigations

4.4
Throughout the inquiry concerns were raised about the investigative abilities and attitudes of the various state and territory WHS regulators. The committee heard evidence that indicated that the quality of investigations was at times highly deficient, a situation which ultimately led to poor prosecution outcomes.
4.5
Key issues that aggrieved families included:
a lack of confidence in the skill set and resource levels of the investigating regulator;
the length of time required to complete the investigation; and
the regulator's attitudes towards investigations.
4.6
Families were also concerned that they were not seen as valid stakeholders in the investigation and as a result were not kept up to date with the process. Chapter 6 of this report examines this issue in more detail.

Confidence in regulator

4.7
The committee's attention was drawn to a 2017 report titled 'Death at Work: Improving support for families' conducted by researchers at the University of Sydney.2 The study was conducted from 2012 to 2016 and included detailed interviews with approximately 50 representatives from institutions that deal with workplace fatalities (e.g. employers, government agencies, unions) and 44 family members, and a broader survey of 109 family members. It aimed to identify the health and financial consequences of fatal work injuries, assess the adequacy of institutional responses in meeting families' needs, and identify interventions and policy measures to improve these responses.3 Dr Lynda Matthews, one of the report authors and an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney submitted:
More than half of the family members participating in this study indicated they were very dissatisfied with the fairness of processes and the outcomes reached in the investigation. They had difficulty being satisfied with the rigour of investigative processes due to inconsistencies in information, concerns of possible tampering with evidence, and the lack of explanations from authorities about decisions made during investigations, including the decision not to prosecute.4
4.8
Numerous impacted families informed the committee that they did not have confidence in the skills and resource levels of the regulator working on the investigation of their loved one's death.5 The concerns were often centred on whether the investigator had the relevant skill set and knowledge required; whether the regulator had sufficient resources; unnecessary delays in securing work sites; whether critical evidence have been collected or tampered with; and delays in speaking to key witnesses.
4.9
For example, Mr Lee Salvemini submitted that in the investigation into his son Jack's death on a commercial fishing boat in 2005 that the investigator involved did not have the appropriate skills to gather evidence:
The other thing is you've got to have the right people to investigate the accident. That didn't happen in my son's case. I've got the statement and a transcript here from the police officer who went out to the boat. He didn't even go out to the boat, but they asked him, 'Had you had a chance to get familiar with the layout of the operations of the vessel in any other way?' 'No.' 'Do you have any experience in respect of a commercial fishing vessel?' 'Not really of a commercial fishing vessel, no.' 'Have you ever been on a shark fishing vessel before?' 'Not a shark fishing vessel.' 'Do you have any experience in respect of net winches or net spools on board commercial fishing vessels? 'No.'6
4.10
Ms Pam Gurner-Hall informed the committee that seemingly basic steps were not taken in the aftermath of her partner Jorge's death on the site of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital in 2014:
SafeWork SA [South Australia] did not have any investigators go to the site on the day. They sent three staff members to 'have a look around'. On the same day, they removed the scissor lift from the site before any of the measurements had been taken, before any of the photographs had been taken, before anybody had had a chance to inspect the fact that the power pack used to bring down the machine was not working, was replaced by a SafeWork person to get the machine started. They put it on a freighter and they took it to SAPOL, which is the South Australian Police Force lockdown area, and they left it out in the rain where it rusted for the next three months before they got a full investigation into that machine in early March [2015]. There were no interviews taken by SafeWork SA of any of the witnesses until the first week of May [2015].7
4.11
Mrs Jennifer Newport's son Glenn was killed in 2013 in central Queensland. She provided an account to the committee of the investigation that indicated it was not completed to a high standard:
Due to a number of excuses, the department prosecutor deemed that they could not take any action against the company. From further investigation, we've discovered that there was a coroner's inquest. There was also an ombudsman investigation into a series of different workplace deaths, and Glenn's case was one of them. It was shown that the initial investigation by WorkSafe [Queensland] was totally inadequate and underscoped. He died on the Saturday night; the investigators did not arrive until the Monday morning. The initial interviews were done by the police, who seemed to be under the impression, when they came and told us that Glenn had died, that he had taken something. Their investigation seemed to be skewed to the idea that he might have taken something in his donga, fallen over and hit his head. By the time the WorkSafe staff got out there, the company had sent all of his workmates home on bereavement leave, so they were not interviewed until well over a week later when they came back to work.8
4.12
In another example put to the committee, Mr Daniel Kennedy described the inadequacies he saw in the investigation after his son Dale was killed in 2012 in Cairns, Queensland:
To date, there has been a clear message sent to our family and other affected families that indicates that an industrial death is of less importance than other deaths investigated by the Queensland Police Service. Dale's incident was attended by two workplace health and safety officers, one ESO [Electrical Safety Office] principal inspector, two ESO senior inspectors, one regional inspector and four Queensland police officers, including a forensic officer. Yet important facts were disregarded and there was no thorough investigation. The Queensland Police Service should have overseen this investigation. The ESO admitted they questioned the initial testing the day after Dale's death and visited the college some nine days later to check the results. Why wasn't a crime scene established and a thorough investigation conducted? The college building was open for business some four hours after Dale's death. The file from the principal ESO investigator, who clearly demonstrated a lack of investigative skills, was the determining factor in the direction of prosecutions.9
4.13
Mr Kennedy provided further detail on the ways in which the investigation was lacking and highlighted the adverse consequences of a poor quality investigation:
Statements were made in January 2013, six weeks later, from crucial first responders. These statements replicated each other word for word, and this is unacceptable. Another first responder gave his written statement in July. The principal investigator added at least three statements of the day. This certainly highlighted to us the lack of investigative skills and the lack of knowledge of the rules and regulations. We were searching and reaching out for answers for months and never receiving any information from the Office of Industrial Relations. Dale's host employer had to answer to charges in August 2014. Investigators charged him with an offense that did not exist. This was thrown out as no case to answer. How does this happen?10
4.14
Mrs Debbie Kennedy, Dale's mother, described for the committee the distress a poor quality investigation can have on the impacted family:
We were putting our trust—we weren't thinking, 'Gee, I hope a good investigation's happening.' Obviously, we were just thinking there must be an investigation going on. We were putting our full trust in it, because why wouldn't an investigation have been thorough? We found so many times that people would use excuses for poor investigations. The track the prosecution went down was: 'They were in an acting position. They were new to the role. They hadn't had any training.' I'm sorry, but if you've accepted a position and you don't think you've had the correct training, especially if you're a principal investigator, then you should be asking for training...11

Investigation length

4.15
In addition to concerns about the quality of investigations, the committee heard from some impacted families that they felt that the length of time taken to complete investigations was at times too long.12 In addition to prolonging the distress for families, drawn out investigations also had the potential to exceed the limitation period for prosecutions. Even if an investigation is completed within the limitation period, subsequent coronial inquests can then take some time.
4.16
Ms Regan Ballantine, whose son Wesley was killed on a Perth construction site in 2017, explained how the lengthy time frame in her son's case caused her additional unnecessary stress:
…it's obvious that WorkSafe [Western Australia] are under-resourced. The motivation to carry out their task is limited. I'm almost two years into the process, and the case is only just sitting with the Director of Public Prosecutions at the moment. We're 19 months in and it's still sitting with the Director of Public Prosecutions to determine whether they will bring about an action. Whilst there is an active WorkSafe investigation the coroner cannot conduct its formal inquiry, so it'll be six years from the date of my son's death before all of the process is scheduled to be completed, which is a very long time and has a huge impact on families, especially when there are no resources for support with respect to the type of counselling that you may need to support you through such a long and arduous process.13
4.17
The committee was advised that in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) there is a statutory two year limitation on bringing charges.14 As such, should an investigation take longer than two years, in some circumstances the window for bringing charges is effectively closed. The ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mr Greg Jones observed that for complex investigations, two years 'can go very rapidly'.15
4.18
Chapter 5 of this report explores the issue of limitation periods in more depth.
4.19
The committee also received evidence from Dr Lynda Matthews of the University of Sydney that the lengthy period of time an investigation can take contributes to the trauma suffered by the family of a deceased worker. She noted that the bereavement of a family is in effect not dealt with while an investigation is ongoing, given they must be constantly vigilant and involved in what is happening.16
4.20
Chapter 6 of this report examines further the impact of the investigation process on families.

Regulators' attitudes towards investigations

4.21
Concerns were also raised with the committee regarding the attitudes with which regulators and their investigators viewed industrial deaths. It was argued that the attitude of a regulator or individual investigator ultimately dictates what kind of evidence will be gathered. If an industrial death is viewed as an accident, the direction of the investigation and the type of evidence gathered will be vastly different to what would occur if the death was viewed as a potential crime.
4.22
The following exchange between the committee and Mr Dave and Mrs Janine Brownlee and Dr Lana Cormie, whose son Jack and husband Charlie respectively were killed in the same trench collapse in 2018, illustrated the problems inherent with a regulator viewing a death as an accident, rather than a potential crime:
CHAIR: I know this is a subjective question, but do you think there is an attitude with the investigator or regulator that 'accidents just happen' and therefore will investigate it on that basis, or do you think they are treating it as, 'This is a negligent act that has resulted in a death'?
Mr Brownlee: They're restricted in what they can do and say, but there are other ways they could have gone about things. They filled that trench in four hours after. It was that night.
CHAIR: Who filled it in?
Mr Brownlee: They were directed by WorkSafe to fill it in. There was a lot of evidence still in that trench. I work at the mine in Ballarat. We have umpteen geos—geotechnical engineers—there. They could have got a geo out there. We have a bloke that worked there for 10 or 12 years. He knows Ballarat ground. He could have gone out and made an assessment on that ground until they got their so-called expert in with a bit of barricading, fencing or whatever and a guard on it. They could've got their expert up to see the site initially. But, once it's filled in, that evidence is gone.
Mrs Brownlee: The coroner didn't turn up. The geotech didn't turn up. So—
Mr Brownlee: They're going on one-dimensional photographs.
Mrs Brownlee: Yes. Somebody else took the photos. The geotech didn’t turn up to check the soil properly. Jack at that time was still in hospital. He was still fighting for his life. They should've kept it open for at least 24 hours to see the result with Jack. They actually had two deaths on their hands. They should have waited. With Jack, they knew he was in critical condition. They knew Jack wasn't going to survive. So that's two deaths. They've really covered up the evidence. They've buried the evidence. They could've waited until the next day.
CHAIR: Again, our job isn't to adjudicate on these things, but I guess what you're saying to me is that the scene of the accident certainly was not treated as a potential criminal site.
Mr Brownlee: No.
Dr Cormie: It should be treated as a crime scene would be.17
4.23
Dr Cormie elaborated on this point:
Our case is still ongoing but, looking back at previous cases, it seems quite evident that there appears to be quite a willingness to go down the easy path—'Unsafe workplace, section 21, easy. Tick the box, stamp that paperwork and get it off my desk.' Is there evidence for higher charges? We either weren't resourced or weren't motivated to actually find the evidence to allow for that to be charged in court. So, when we take our case to our lawyers at WorkSafe or the appropriate body, they will find that there isn't enough evidence. Why? It's because no-one looked for it. It would appear, from our uneducated viewpoint, that they're looking for evidence towards a crime or a charge. If the only thing you're aiming for is an unsafe workplace charge, that's all you're going to find. But if you investigate as you would a crime scene, a murder, a suicide, a rape, a car accident or a child being molested at school, you would find more evidence. But to do that the personnel in the regulating body need to be trained properly, and they need to be motivated towards not just any prosecution but the greatest prosecution—the greatest charge.18
4.24
The committee asked Mr Rod Hodgson, a principal lawyer with Maurice Blackburn Lawyers (Maurice Blackburn) for his opinion on the investigative abilities of regulators. In his response he emphasised the importance of regulators having adequate resources, the right investigative skills and the appropriate attitude:
In the Queensland context, I think it was recognised by the current Queensland government that…the less than optimal investigation structure, had led to some unacceptable outcomes. I think there are three elements to that. The first is that the investigation body charged with investigation and in due course, in some cases, prosecution of these offences needs to have probably three elements to it. The first is appropriate resources. There's not much point having a new legislative framework and the new offence if the body charged with investigating these matters has inadequate resources. The next element is that they needed to have the right skills, not only enough people but enough people with the right skills to investigate thoroughly the cause of a workplace death and carry that through in the manner that you've described in a way that meets the standards imposed by courts.
The third element is perhaps a little more amorphous but no less important. That is an attitudinal factor. I think that probably workplace deaths have not been regarded as 'true crimes' in inverted commas by a lot of directors of public prosecutions, who have high constraints and other more conventional forms of crime to deal with. An attitudinal adjustment to reflect the community expectations that I referred to before is very important. The Queensland government is in the process of responding to those factors by setting up a separate entity to investigate and prosecute workplace deaths—industrial manslaughter. It is very important that if that Queensland and ACT legislation is to be expanded on in other jurisdictions, as Victoria has foreshadowed, that the government equip the authorities with people with the right skills, sufficient people as well as people with the right attitudinal approach to the investigation and pursuit of such an important prosecution.19

A way forward

4.25
The Maurice Blackburn written submission suggested that the committee consider a requirement that all workplace deaths be treated as criminal investigations, requiring a Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) or analogous prosecutorial oversight. It observed that if that were to be the case, it would be essential that such authorities be properly funded and resourced.20
4.26
Mr Greg Jones, the ACT Work Safety Commissioner advised that in the past two years the ACT had made considerable improvements in the way investigations were conducted. He highlighted the importance of having an experienced investigation team to ensure quality evidence is gathered, and noted that the four major ACT investigators were ex-police officers with over 100 years of criminal investigation experience collectively.21
4.27
He also emphasised the importance of beginning the investigation in a timely manner in ensure the evidence collected is of the highest quality:
Securing the site at the earliest practical stage after an incident is absolutely critical and paramount. Those first 24 hours are absolutely critical in terms of securing the site, the evidence, taking witness statements – perhaps, as other witnesses may tell you, before they 'lawyer up', which is a comment I heard earlier. The quicker you get in and get statements before that occurs the better off you are, where that's clearly appropriate. There's the quality of the evidence. We have equipped ourselves with considerable technology in terms of camera and video. We have a number of drones that we use to get whole-of-site footage very early in the piece.22
4.28
Mr Jones also elaborated on the importance of a cooperative and consultative relationship between the workplace regulator and other agencies (for example the police) that are involved in the aftermath of an industrial death. He outlined for the committee the typical process that occurs in the ACT:
Typically, when we [WorkSafe ACT] go to a major incident or certainly a fatality, we would immediately make contact with the ACT Policing. We would establish very early the priorities in terms of gathering evidence, based on the particular case of event, and that we would be there. Usually at that point we would establish who is the lead agency, and it would depends on the circumstances. That lead agency, as with all emergency services type protocols, would take the lead and call the shots. It's very cooperative and consultative in terms of what's happening. On site, we typically share resources on the day, in terms of gathering evidence, taking witness statements or whatever is necessary at that time. We have protocols in place between ACT Policing and WorkSafe ACT to share absolutely everything that we collect. Our investigations area genuine joint approach and we specialise in our own areas as we need to. We exchange information in terms of presenting evidence on the case or the experience to the coroner, as the coroner requests, so that there is always consistency between what ACT Policing and WorkSafe present to the coroner, so there is no conflict there because of the exchange of evidence that we do collect. As an investigation continues, sometimes that lead agency will change when one of the agencies finished their role. Then there'll be a complete handover, including evidence. Whichever agency is not in the lead role is kept informed regularly of where it's going, progress and anything that may impact on their space. At the same time, especially if we feel that there's likely to be regulatory action taken due to people's decision-making at the time, we involve the DPP's [Director of Public Prosecutions] office at a very early stage. That can help guide the collection of evidence, in terms of where we see an investigation going. If it's going for a category 1 or an industrial manslaughter type charge, then, clearly, as you suggested, the level of evidence has to be pretty tight and very, very accurate. And we can help with consultation with ACT Policing, the coroner's office and the DPP's office to make sure that we're completely comprehensive in the range of evidence that we do in fact collect.23

Committee view

4.29
The committee is of the strong opinion that an investigation into an industrial death must be of the highest quality. Additionally, workplace deaths must be investigated in a timely manner and as a matter of priority.
4.30
The committee acknowledges the frustration of families when investigations take lengthy periods of time. The committee also acknowledges that it is difficult for families to find closure and deal with their grief when they do not have confidence in the investigative process that follows the death of the loved one.
4.31
The committee is greatly concerned by the evidence it received indicating that the investigations of industrial deaths are often haphazard or conducted by unskilled investigators. The committee does not think it appropriate that people with virtually no investigative experience or the appropriate logistical support from their employer could be tasked with investigating a death.
4.32
In addition, the committee finds it imperative that the regulators undertaking the investigation do so with the correct attitude; that is, that the death they are investigating is potentially a criminal matter, not merely an accident. Accordingly, the site must be initially treated as a crime scene and a thorough process of evidence gathering must be undertaken. The committee asserts that it is likely that all industrial deaths are preventable, and so each should be investigated as a potential crime scene.
4.33
The committee draws comparisons between the way an industrial death and a road vehicle accident death is investigated. The scene of a road vehicle accident death is treated as a crime scene and the incident is investigated on a basis that it may lead to criminal charges. From the evidence received during the inquiry, it would appear that such a rigorous and professional investigative approach is equally not applied to an industrial death incident.
4.34
The committee also notes that should the offence of industrial manslaughter be introduced into model WHS laws (a matter discussed in Chapter 5 of this report), this will necessitate a higher standard of investigation and prosecution than is currently acceptable in many jurisdictions.
4.35
The committee considers there to be merit in ensuring consistency in investigation processes between jurisdictions by ensuring differences do not arise simply because regulators are under-resourced, or due to differing practices between WHS regulators and law enforcement agencies.
4.36
The committee has also made a recommendation in relation to WHS regulators having adequate resources to carry out preventative activities. This is discussed later in this chapter.
4.37
The committee further considers there to be a pressing need for more effective collaboration and evidence sharing between WHS regulators and law enforcement agencies given both agencies often work in the same investigative space immediately following a workplace fatality.
4.38
The committee has also made a finding about the need for impacted families to be more effectively briefed as an investigation progresses. This matter is discussed in Chapter 6 of the report.

Recommendation 6

4.39
The committee recommends that Commonwealth, State and Territory governments ensure that their WHS regulators are adequately funded and resourced to allow them to complete investigations in a timely, thorough and effective manner.

Recommendation 7

4.40
The committee recommends that Safe Work Australia work with Commonwealth, State and Territory governments and WHS regulators to develop and deliver standardised training modules to ensure that all investigators have the appropriate skills, experience and attitude to carry out high-quality investigations of industrial deaths and other serious breaches of WHS laws.
4.41
In the absence of a joint approach, the committee encourages all Commonwealth, State and Territory governments and WHS regulators to pursue this recommendation individually.

Recommendation 8

4.42
The committee recommends that Safe Work Australia work with all Commonwealth, State and Territory governments and WHS regulators to:
establish best practice guidelines for the conduct and duration of investigations of serious WHS law breaches, including workplace deaths, which include guidance on the criteria that must be satisfied if an investigation needs to be extended past the usual allocated timeframe; and
ensure that each jurisdiction is able to fully implement these guidelines.
4.43
In the absence of a joint approach, the committee encourages all Commonwealth, State and Territory governments and WHS regulators to pursue this recommendation individually.

Recommendation 9

4.44
The committee recommends that Safe Work Australia work with WHS regulators to develop a policy to formalise collaboration and evidence sharing between WHS regulators and law enforcement agencies during investigations following an industrial death.

Recommendation 10

4.45
The committee recommends that Safe Work Australia work with WHS regulators in each jurisdiction to develop a policy which stipulates that all industrial deaths must be investigated as potential crime scenes.

Cross-jurisdictional investigations

4.46
The committee also heard concerns about the difficulty regulators encountered in collecting evidence from other jurisdictions, an issue which could severely hamper investigation outcomes.
4.47
For example, 21 year old worker Mr Ben Catanzariti was killed in 2012 when he was struck on the head by a collapsing concrete boom. Ben's mother, Mrs Kay Catanzariti, advised that the investigation encountered cross-jurisdictional issues because while the company Ben worked for was based in the ACT and the work site where he died was in the ACT, the company that serviced the boom was based in New South Wales (NSW). Her written submission noted:
ACT WorkSafe had several issues with the complex interjurisdictional nature of the investigation. I believe there were concerns ACT WorkSafe could not obtain information from the NSW based company…
ACT WorkSafe attempted to liaise with the business or asked NSW WorkSafe to do so on their behalf. The AFP [Australian Federal Police] were required to request NSW Police to assist with the execution of two search warrants on the business premises on two separate occasions in order to obtain evidence that would be admissible in court for a criminal charge and collect evidence of the offence that hadn't been supplied.24
4.48
She provided further detail at a hearing:
WorkSafe ACT and the AFP were not permitted to go into New South Wales. They had to contact WorkSafe New South Wales and the New South Wales police. They then had to find time to go to the premises. They had to do the investigation. ACT, AFP and WorkSafe were there, but they were not permitted, to my understanding, to ask questions. The witnesses refused to speak to the AFP. They were lawyered up, basically. There were delays in obtaining evidence. What happens is, they can only take the evidence that they take at the time. They cannot take any other evidence after the two-year time limit. They couldn't go backwards and forwards.25
4.49
Mrs Catanzariti suggested that greater cooperation was needed between regulators and investigating bodies across jurisdictions, otherwise there was a risk that critical evidence 'on the ground' interstate would be missed by the principal investigators.26
4.50
When the committee put this matter to the ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mr Jones, he responded that he was aware of the potential cross-jurisdictional problems that could arise during an investigation regarding collecting evidence and serving warrants. He noted that WorkSafe ACT did have arrangements in place with the NSW Police and ACT Policing to use NSW Policing to actually assist with the serving of warrants or obtaining evidence where necessary, although such arrangements also relied upon cooperation and resource levels.27
4.51
Mr Jones also commented that there may be a benefit in more formal reform to solve cross-jurisdictional issues in a more timely manner:
I'm sure, if there was perhaps a legislative reform that would allow the immediate cross-jurisdiction without relying on MOUs [Memorandums of Understanding] or cooperation, that would be smoother and no doubt quicker. Sometimes time is of the essence in terms of collection of evidence.28
4.52
The Department of Jobs and Small Business (the department) acknowledged the importance of genuine cross-jurisdictional cooperation between WHS regulators. It referenced a 2018 discussion paper prepared for the Safe Work Australia review of the model WHS laws which noted that although there were positive examples of cooperative compliance and enforcement between WHS regulators, there was no clear authority for inspectors in one jurisdiction to use their powers in another.29
4.53
The department suggested that further consideration be given to a framework and practices that better support and enable cross-border investigations:
In particular, the department submits that consideration should be given to amending the laws to specifically enable a regulator in one jurisdiction to assist a second regulator in the furtherance of the second regulator's investigations.
The department also considers that it could be beneficial to include a specific power in the model WHS Act enabling regulators to more easily share information when performing their functions in accordance with the WHS laws.30

Committee view

4.54
In the committee's view it is unacceptable for the investigation of a workplace death (or other serious WHS law breaches) to be stymied by a lack of jurisdictional cooperation. As the Australian economy and Australian businesses increase their cross-jurisdictional interactions and linkages into the future, the proper investigation of workplace deaths will progressively rely on more productive interactions between WHS regulators and law enforcement agencies across jurisdictions.
4.55
Given the importance of industrial death investigations being completed in a timely manner and to the highest possible standard, the committee considers it necessary that formalised arrangements for cross-jurisdictional cooperation between WHS regulators be established.

Recommendation 11

4.56
The committee recommends that Safe Work Australia pursue amendments to the model WHS laws to enable a WHS regulator or law enforcement agency in one jurisdiction to assist a second WHS regulator or law enforcement agency in a cross-border investigation, including in the sharing of evidence and other relevant information.

Resourcing for preventative activities

4.57
Earlier in this chapter the matter of adequate resourcing for WHS regulators was discussed in regard to the ability for regulators to conduct quality investigations following a workplace fatality.
4.58
In addition to this matter, the committee received evidence urging better resourcing for WHS regulators to carry out preventative activities in order to minimise the risk of workplace deaths occurring in the first place.
4.59
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) indicated that it would like WHS regulators to take a more hands-on approach to prevention activities, which would require increased resources:
Within our network we have a strong representation of small and medium businesses. Our members are telling us they don't have a problem with the legislation and they don't have an issue with enforcement: it's more that employers just need to know where to find information specific to them and how to put this into practice. This would likely require more regulator resources and a more hands-on approach. It would be moving away from safety as a compliance exercise and towards real safety outcomes. Rather than directing employers to specific codes of practice or guidance, we need to create an environment where businesses are comfortable asking inspectors for practical assistance and inspectors are comfortable providing this.31

Committee view

4.60
The committee is of the opinion that increased preventative activities on behalf of WHS regulators forms a crucial part of the broader framework of reducing the number of industrial deaths.
4.61
For this reason, the committee considers it necessary for the WHS regulator in each jurisdiction to allocate increased funding and resourcing to preventative activities, such as workplace inspections.

Recommendation 12

4.62
The committee recommends that Commonwealth, State and Territory governments ensure that adequate funding and resourcing is allocated to their WHS regulators to allow for increased, more effective preventative activities in workplaces.

  • 1
    Australian Council of Trade Unions, Submission 39, p. 4.
  • 2
    See Lynda R Matthews, Philip Bohle, Michael Quinlan et al, Death at work: Improving support for families, July 2017, http://sydney.edu.au/health-sciences/research/workplace-death/improving-support-for-families-final-report.pdf (accessed 28 September 2018).
  • 3
    See Lynda R Matthews, Philip Bohle, Michael Quinlan et al, Death at work: Improving support for families, July 2017, http://sydney.edu.au/health-sciences/research/workplace-death/improving-support-for-families-final-report.pdf (accessed 28 September 2018), pp. 2–4.
  • 4
    Dr Lynda Matthews, Submission 60, p. 4.
  • 5
    See for example Dr Lana Cormie, private capacity, Proof Committee Hansard, 28 August 2018, pp. 31–32; Mr Jon-Paul Bradley, private capacity, Proof Committee Hansard, 30 August 2018, p.  16; Ms Ashlea Cunico, private capacity, Proof Committee Hansard, 30 August 2018, p. 18; Mrs Patricia Kelsh, private capacity, Proof Committee Hansard, 30 August 2018, p. 20; Ms Regan Ballantine, Proof Committee Hansard, 30 August 2018, pp. 20–21; Mr Mark Murrie, Proof Committee Hansard, 30 August 2018, p. 20; Mr Lee Salvemini, private capacity, Proof Committee Hansard, 29 August 2018, p. 2; Mrs Edith Logan, private capacity, Proof Committee Hansard, 29 August 2018, p. 3; Ms Pam Gurner-Hall, private capacity, Proof Committee Hansard, 29 August 2018, p. 6; and Mr Michael Garrels, Interim Chair, Interim Consultative Committee for Workplace Fatalities and Serious Incidents, Proof Committee Hansard, 17 July 2018, p. 2; Mrs Julie LeBrocq-Goggin and Mr Wayne Goggin, Submission 53, pp. 1–2.
  • 6
    Mr Lee Salvemini, private capacity, Proof Committee Hansard, 29 August 2018, p. 8.
  • 7
    Ms Pam Gurner-Hall, private capacity, Proof Committee Hansard, 29 August 2018, p. 6.
  • 8
    Mrs Jennifer Newport, private capacity, Proof Committee Hansard, 17 July 2018, p. 22.
  • 9
    Mr Daniel Kennedy, private capacity, Proof Committee Hansard, 17 July 2018, p. 17.
  • 10
    Mr Daniel Kennedy, private capacity, Proof Committee Hansard, 17 July 2018, p. 18. For more information see also Mrs Julie LeBrocq-Goggin and Mr Wayne Goggin, Submission 53, pp. 1–3.
  • 11
    Mrs Debbie Kennedy, private capacity, Proof Committee Hansard, 17 July 2018, p. 20.
  • 12
    See for example Mrs Robyn Colson, Submission 29, p. 3; and Mrs Kay Catanzariti, private capacity, Proof Committee Hansard, 7 August 2018, p. 5.
  • 13
    Ms Regan Ballantine, private capacity, Proof Committee Hansard, 30 August 2018, p. 21.
  • 14
    Mr Greg Jones, Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Work Safety Commissioner, Access Canberra, ACT Government, Proof Committee Hansard, 7 August 2018, p. 43.
  • 15
    Mr Greg Jones, ACT Work Safety Commissioner, Access Canberra, ACT Government, Proof Committee Hansard, 7 August 2018, p. 43.
  • 16
    Dr Lynda Matthews, Associate Professor, Faculty of Heath Sciences, University of Sydney, Proof Committee Hansard, 12 July 2018, p. 10.
  • 17
    Mr Dave Brownlee, private capacity, Proof Committee Hansard, 28 August 2018, p. 32; Mrs Janine Brownlee, private capacity, Proof Committee Hansard, 28 August 2018, p. 32; and Dr Lana Cormie, private capacity, Proof Committee Hansard, 28 August 2018, p. 32.
  • 18
    Dr Lana Cormie, private capacity, Proof Committee Hansard, 28 August 2018, p. 32.
  • 19
    Mr Rod Hodgson, Principal Lawyer, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, Proof Committee Hansard, 28 August 2018, p. 18.
  • 20
    Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, Submission 23, p. 15.
  • 21
    Mr Greg Jones, ACT Work Safety Commissioner, Access Canberra, ACT Government, Proof Committee Hansard, 7 August 2018, p. 43.
  • 22
    Mr Greg Jones, ACT Work Safety Commissioner, Access Canberra, ACT Government, Proof Committee Hansard, 7 August 2018, p. 43.
  • 23
    Mr Greg Jones, ACT Work Safety Commissioner, Access Canberra, ACT Government, Proof Committee Hansard, 7 August 2018, p. 43.
  • 24
    Mrs Kay Catanzariti, Submission 48, p. 2.
  • 25
    Mrs Kay Catanzariti, private capacity, Proof Committee Hansard, 7 August 2018, p. 5.
  • 26
    Mrs Kay Catanzariti, Submission 48, p. 2.
  • 27
    Mr Greg Jones, ACT Work Safety Commissioner, Access Canberra, ACT Government, Proof Committee Hansard, 7 August 2018, p. 45.
  • 28
    Mr Greg Jones, ACT Work Safety Commissioner, Access Canberra, ACT Government, Proof Committee Hansard, 7 August 2018, p. 45.
  • 29
    Department of Jobs and Small Business, Submission 49, p. 5.
  • 30
    Department of Jobs and Small Business, Submission 49, p. 5.
  • 31
    Ms Jennifer Low, Associate Director, Workplace Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation Policy, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Proof Committee Hansard, 30 August 2018, p. 1.

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