Deterrence and OHS Prosecutions: Prosecuted Employers’ Responses
Journal of Occupational Health and Safety - Australia and New Zealand, Vol. 25, No. 4, pp. 263-276, 2009
15 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2010
Date Written: March 9, 2010
In the context of political debate on prosecution’s role in deterring OHS breaches, this article investigates prosecuted employers’ responses to prosecution for serious workplace injuries and deaths in New South Wales and Victoria. Based on interviews with employers from a range of industries and company sizes, it was found that all participants took action to avoid the recurrence of workplace injuries/deaths. Prosecuted employers’ interventions varied according to the specific circumstances associated with the offence, but patterns of responses corresponded with differences in employer size. However, most employers (large and small) reported that, while OHS was a problem they were legally obliged to manage, it was not one of their making. Their conception of the causes of workplace injuries and deaths conflicted with that presented by the legal system during prosecution. In this context, it appears that routine prosecution for significant OHS offences is a crucial regulatory mechanism in deterring serious workplace injuries and deaths.
Keywords: deterrence, OHS, prosecution, risk management
JEL Classification: J28, K10, K30, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation