Victorian employers faced over $16 million in fines for failing to protect their workers last year. 

WorkSafe Victoria says its efforts culminated in 153 successful health and safety prosecutions in 2023.

The courts imposed a total of $16,182,957 in fines, including three penalties exceeding $1 million and an additional 25 fines of at least $100,000, underscoring the gravity of the offences and the courts' commitment to deterring future breaches. 

High-risk violations, such as the potential for falls from heights - a leading cause of workplace fatalities in Victoria - were a focal point, with 39 prosecutions resulting in fines nearing $2 million.

The construction and manufacturing sectors saw the highest number of prosecutions, reflecting WorkSafe's targeted approach to industries with heightened risks. 

Transport, postal, and warehousing, along with wholesale trade, were also areas of significant concern, further illustrating the varied nature of workplace hazards across different sectors.

“The safest places to work are those where employers accept that injuries and fatalities are preventable and priority is placed on doing what they can to protect their people,” says Dr Narelle Beer, WorkSafe's Executive Director Health and Safety.

“WorkSafe will use every enforcement tool at its disposal to hold to account employers who put the health and safety of their workers or others at risk.”

Tragically, workplace fatalities persist, with 17 prosecutions related to deaths, leading to $6.3 million in fines. These cases serve as a sombre reminder of the ultimate cost of safety failures. 

Dr Beer also highlighted the prosecution of multiple duty holders for workplace bullying and sexual harassment, stressing the importance of addressing both physical and mental health risks.

Notable prosecutions in 2023 included Bradbury Industrial Services Pty Ltd, fined $2.9 million for a warehouse explosion and unsafe chemical stockpiles, and Dennis Jones Engineering Pty Ltd, which faced a $2.1 million fine after an apprentice suffered life-changing injuries. 

In addition to punitive measures, WorkSafe accepted seven enforceable undertakings totaling $1.2 million, aimed at fostering a deeper commitment to health and safety within the penalised organisations and their respective industries. 

These undertakings are meant to focus on long-term improvements rather than solely on penalties.