HWL Ebsworth safety group has noted that safety regulators across the country are starting to focus on human factors giving rise to safety incidents in workplaces. This trend has arisen as safety regulators are looking to drive the next step change in safety improvements in Australia.
HWL Ebsworth has become a dominant player in this market and we regularly defend employers and directors and officers who are being prosecuted by regulators under safety and criminal law. We provide advice on minimising the impact of a prosecution on our clients’ businesses and their employees. We appear regularly in multiple courts in response to proceedings brought under safety legislation, including summary proceedings in the Magistrates Court and indictable proceedings before a jury.
The Group has expertise in managing major incidents and in assisting our clients to achieve legal compliance and in pro-actively managing health and safety risks on an ongoing basis. We support you in liaising with statutory authorities, the police, the media, employees and key stakeholders and independent experts. We work with our clients to proactively manage major incidents to reduce risks and to ensure full operations as soon as possible and to develop policies, procedures and risk management practices and systems aimed at avoiding workplace incidents occurring.
- Utilities: Acted for utility companies in relation to complex workplace fatalities including assisting with negotiations with government and regulators in relation to required actions; training presentations to board, executive and operations lead teams; assisting with incident investigation process and what is documented post an incident;
- Mining: Successfully represented an international mining company in defence of charges under the Environmental Protection Act, the Integrated Planning Act and the Forestry Act. All charges were dismissed in 2015 and costs were awarded in the mine’s favour;
- Transport: Successfully represented a trucking company in 2015 in contesting a claim for a large amount of compensation under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act by WorkCover;
- Mining and Petroleum: Managing incident investigations and all subsequent litigation: includes on-site attendance to work with investigation team, interview witnesses, liaising with regulators, the police, insurers, contractors and the coroner’s office. Assisting with documentary and evidence collection, engagement of experts, drafting of or review of investigation report, claims for force majeure, dealing with FOI applications, managing prosecutions and civil claims and any coronial inquests; Assisting clients with obtaining safety regulatory approvals and assisting with day to day safety advice; Advising in relation to cybersecurity obligations. Conducting compliance audits. Preparing legal incident management manuals;
- Resources: Represented a large employer in a workplace health and safety prosecution following a fatality at its worksite, and associated claims for compensation by the worker’s family; and
- Land Development, Construction and Property Ownership: Acting in relation to corruption and crime commission investigations into land development approvals, advising on directors and officers obligations under harmonised laws for businesses operating as landlords and property developers across the country, advising on health and safety obligations on particular developments, advising in relation to safety incidents including fatal accident investigations, advising on work health and safety contractual clauses.