The court and the factory the legal construction of occupational health and safety offences in Victoria

Johnstone, Richard (1994) The court and the factory the legal construction of occupational health and safety offences in Victoria. PhD thesis, University of Melbourne.

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Abstract

This thesis reports on an empirically based study of the manner in which Victorian Magistrates Courts constructed occupational health and safety (OHS) issues when hearing prosecutions for offences under the Industrial Safety, Health and Welfare Act 1981 (the ISHWA) and the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1985 (OHSA) from 1983 to 1991. These statutes established OHS standards for employers and other relevant parties. The State government enforced these standards through an OHS inspectorate which had a range of enforcement powers, including prosecution.

After outlining the historical development of Victoria’s OHS legislation, the magistracy’s historical role in its enforcement, and the development of an enforcement culture in which inspectors viewed prosecution as a last resort, the study shows how the key provisions of the ISHWA and OHSA required occupiers of workplaces and employers to provide and maintain safe systems of work, including the guarding of dangerous machinery. Using a wide range of empirical research methods and legal materials, it shows how the enforcement policies, procedures and practices of the inspectorate heavily slanted inspectors workplace investigations and hence prosecutions towards a restricted and often superficial, analysis of incidents (or “events”) most of which involved injuries on machinery. There was evidence, however, that after the establishment of the Central Investigation Unit in 1989 cases were more thoroughly investigated and prosecuted. From 1990 the majority of prosecutions were taken under the employer’s general duty provisions, and by 1991 there was evidence that prosecutions were focusing on matters other than machinery guarding.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 78235
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Refereed: No
Additional URLs:
Keywords: industrial safety; Health and Welfare Act 1981; law and legislation; Occupational Health and Safety Act 1985; Victoria
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Health Law Research
Current > Schools > School of Law
Institution: University of Melbourne
Copyright Owner: © 1994 Dr. Richard Stephen Johnstone
Deposited On: 03 Nov 2014 02:16
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2015 03:55

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