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Milestone moment for WA workplace health and safety laws

A Western Australian man has become the first person to receive an imprisonment sentence under expanded workplace laws implemented by the McGowan government in 2018.

user iconEmma Musgrave 09 June 2021 Big Law
Milestone moment for WA workplace health and safety laws
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The WA WorkSafe Western Australia Commissioner has released a statement confirming that the man, who was the director of shed building company MT Sheds, has become the first person to be sentenced to a term of imprisonment under the state’s harshened penalties for breaches of workplace safety laws implemented in 2018 by the state government.

The director was sentenced to two years and two months’ imprisonment in the Esperance Magistrates Court late last month following the 2020 death of a young worker and serious injury of another. At the time of the incident, the now-deceased worker fell approximately nine metres from the apex of a roof the pair were working on and suffered fatal injuries. Meanwhile, the other who suffered injuries fell seven metres and obtained multiple fractures of the pelvis, hip, wrist and ribs.


The director of MT Sheds pleaded guilty to seven separate changes, including gross negligence.

Following sentencing, MT Sheds was fined a total of $55,000 for breaches of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations. The fines have been classified as the highest under the Occupational Safety and Health Act since the aforementioned changes were made in 2018.

Further, the term of imprisonment placed on the director represents the longest term ever imposed for a work safety and health offence in Australia, according to the commissioner.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Darren Kavanagh said: “[The director] completely failed in every sense to provide a safe workplace for his employees, and as a consequence a young man lost his life and a family lost a loved one.

“The state government is committed to improving workplace safety laws, including ensuring that significant penalties are available to provide incentive to comply with these laws and ensure that community expectations are met.

“Even so, there are no winners in situations like these.”