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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

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 10/31

15 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2010  

Toni Schofield

The University of Sydney - Faculty of Health Sciences

Belinda Reeve

The University of Sydney Law School

Ronald McCallum

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: March 9, 2010

Abstract

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

Schofield, Toni and Reeve, Belinda and McCallum, Ronald, Deterrence and OHS Prosecutions: Prosecuted Employers’ Responses (March 9, 2010). Journal of Occupational Health and Safety - Australia and New Zealand, Vol. 25, No. 4, pp. 263-276, 2009; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 10/31. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1567768

Toni Schofield

The University of Sydney - Faculty of Health Sciences ( email )

Cumberland Campus, C42
The University of Sydney
Lidcombe, NSW 2141
Australia

Belinda Reeve (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Ronald McCallum

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia
+61 2 9351 0252 (Phone)

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