Criminal prosecution if staff injured?
In addition to hefty penalties for an organisation’s bank account, the accountability for work-practice negligence now includes criminal prosecution of key members of management who have been found to have acted negligently.

Criminal Prosecutions for Work-Practice Negligence

In June 2009 in New South Wales, an employee of On Track Community Programs who was employed to support clients in residential services, was attacked by his client at the client’s home. The employee died from his injuries.

“In the case Inspector Walker v On Track Community Programs Limited [2013] NSWIRComm 87, the Court found that On Track knew or should have known that the client posed a serious risk to health and safety to its employees, “yet allowed its employees to be exposed to serious risk of harm without the implementation of adequate measures”.”

On Track is a non-government not for profit organisation. The Court imposed a penalty of $115,000.

In June 2015 in South Australia, the Supreme Court held a company owner criminally responsible for an employee’s death in March 2014 because of work-practice negligence. The trucking company boss has been convicted of the manslaughter of the employee and endangering life.

Thankfully the extremity of these situations is unusual.
Notwithstanding that the consequences in these two cases were extreme, the risk management and decision making processes involved would no doubt have resulted in many other less serious incidents along the way.
If a similar incident to the one experienced by On Track was to occur today, do you think the Court will investigate the actions of individual managers when determining accountability?

Five Areas to Focus On

Five areas to focus on when managing the safety challenges of aggressive behaviours:

  1. Organisations should ensure that they have in place appropriate policies and procedures to control the risks to which their workers are exposed.
  1. Risk assessments should include all relevant and available information in order to reflect the current risks posed by the client.
  1. Staff need to know the policies and procedures that are expected of them. In this regard, organisations should provide training that achieves a level of competence and provides benefits beyond mere compliance.
  1. Staff should be provided the necessary information for each client so that staff can know and support their clients as individuals while simultaneously managing the safety of all involved.
  1. A culture of transparent and effective incident reporting and supervision is required to identify and treat emerging safety challenges.


Corporate and Clinical Governance, Alon Januszewicz, Senior Associate, Health Legal, June 2104 Edition.

SA Supreme Court jury convicts trucking company boss Peter Francis Colbert of manslaughter of driver Robert Brimson, Sean Fewster, Chief Court Reporter, The Advertiser, 17 June 2015.


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Travis Holland
Managing Director
Holland Thomas
Travis Holland email address

My Safety Buddy. Find out more.

Should you wish to discuss strategies to improve your staff’s safety in their work environment, please feel welcome to contact Holland Thomas.
Our goal at Holland Thomas is to create safer workplaces that enhance wellbeing for all concerned whilst also delivering improved operational and financial performance.

This blog draws on our years of experience delivering our M.A.B.™ Staff Safety Training (Contextualised Prevention and Management of Aggressive Behaviours) across Australia and the development of My Safety Buddy, our smartphone app and web portal based lone worker safety solution.

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