OHS Prosecutions: Do They Deter Other Companies from Offending?

Journal of Health, Safety and Environment, Vol. 26, No. 3, pp. 213-231, 2010

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 10/126

31 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2010  

Suzanne Jamieson

University of Sydney Business School

Belinda Reeve

The University of Sydney Law School

Toni Schofield

The University of Sydney - Faculty of Health Sciences

Ronald McCallum

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: November 12, 2010

Abstract

This paper examines the general deterrent impact of OHS prosecutions in New South Wales and Victoria. Based on interviews with non-prosecuted employers from a range of industries and organisational sizes, it was found that prosecutions had some general deterrent impact in line with classical deterrence theory, with effects varying according to company size. Employers also outlined a range of other factors determining whether they complied with OHS legislation including legislative change and the general threat of prosecution. While prosecutions made participants more aware of their responsibilities under OHS legislation, many rejected the idea that they were responsible for employees’ own risky behaviour. The paper concludes with a reworking of deterrence theory which takes into account the contested nature of OHS legislation. Overall we argue that prosecutions play an important role in preventing serious workplace deaths and injuries primarily through their constitutive and symbolic effects, rather than employers’ fear of facing criminal conviction and sanctions.

Keywords: general deterrence, prosecution, OHS, theory

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K31

Suggested Citation

Jamieson, Suzanne and Reeve, Belinda and Schofield, Toni and McCallum, Ronald, OHS Prosecutions: Do They Deter Other Companies from Offending? (November 12, 2010). Journal of Health, Safety and Environment, Vol. 26, No. 3, pp. 213-231, 2010; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 10/126. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1707830

Suzanne Jamieson

University of Sydney Business School ( email )

Cnr. of Codrington and Rose Streets
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Belinda Reeve (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

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

Toni Schofield

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

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