Major Review of Sentencing for Workplace Health and Safety Offences Announced

Media Release

Embargoed until 00:01 a.m. (AEDT) Tuesday 23 January 2024

The Victorian Government has provided the Sentencing Advisory Council with terms of reference to examine the sentencing of occupational health and safety (OHS) offences committed by both individuals and organisations, and to make relevant recommendations for reform.

This will be the first examination of sentencing practices for OHS offences since Victoria’s Occupational Health and Safety Act came into effect almost 20 years ago.

The Attorney-General has asked the Council to:

  • examine sentencing practices for OHS offences
  • consult with stakeholders and the community
  • consider whether sentencing practices align with community expectations
  • consider the role of injured workers and their families in sentencing proceedings and
  • examine the enforcement of sentencing orders, especially payment rates for court fines.

In responding to these terms of reference, the Council will be consulting extensively with employee representatives and unions, industry groups and employers, the legal profession, and the broader community to identify potential areas for reform.

The Council will also be examining court data to understand sentencing practices for OHS offences, as well as fine repayment rates, using data provided by WorkSafe Victoria, the courts, and Fines Victoria.

In February, the Council will be publishing a consultation paper, which will include a call for submissions. We hope to receive responses from a wide range of people, including employees and employers. We will also be publishing a statistical report on the sentencing of OHS offences to help inform our consultations.

The Council will then be hosting a series of community forums across Victoria to gauge community expectations about how corporations and individuals should be sentenced for breaches of duties to keep employees and others safe at work. The Council has been asked to deliver its final report with recommendations to the Attorney-General and the Minister for WorkSafe and the TAC by 31 December 2024.

Quotes Attributable to Council Chair, Professor Marilyn McMahon

‘The Council welcomes the Attorney-General's terms of reference to examine the sentencing of OHS offences in Victoria. Sentencing standards can play a key role in ensuring appropriate safety standards in Victorian workplaces.’

‘The sentencing of OHS offences will be a matter of interest to all Victorians, who are entitled to expect that they and their families will be safe at work. We look forward to hearing from the broader community to understand whether current sentencing practices align with community expectations.’

Quotes Attributable to WorkSafe Victoria CEO, Joe Calafiore

‘Twenty years on from the landmark Maxwell Review, it is timely that the Council review how the courts are interpreting the workplace safety laws that are so important to our community.’

‘WorkSafe encourages anyone with an interest to take the opportunity to be involved in the review.’

Find out more about the project on our website at

About the Sentencing Advisory Council: The Council is an independent statutory body established in 2004. It has a number of legislative functions, including conducting research on sentencing, consulting on sentencing matters, publishing sentencing statistics, and advising the Attorney-General on sentencing matters.