An Australian-based OHS legal team has worked on the most recent of only three OHS matters ever heard in the High Court of Australia
The latest judgment was handed down on Friday, with Norton Rose Australia successful in its appeal on behalf of its client, Baiada Poultry.
Following the appeal, occupational health and safety partner at Norton Rose Australia, Michael Hammond said the case highlights the extreme and often “unbalanced position” taken by prosecution authorities across Australia, where he said workplace safety issues are not balanced by principles of justice in the criminal law.
“People often forget that this is an area of criminal law. Defendants should be afforded all the protections that are afforded to other criminal defendents."
The case, which first went to the County Court in Victoria in 2009 and then on to the Supreme Court in 2011 also has implications for the new Work Health Safety (WHS) laws, he said.
"The issue of control has been fundamental to workplace safety since the inception of what we now recognise as workplace safety laws and must remain fundamental,” Hammond said.
“As the Victorian OHS Act makes clear, it is the people who have control of specific risks at the workplace who the criminal law should make responsible."
Head of the OHS practice at Norton Rose Australia, Michael Tooma, said “There have only been three matters that have made it to the High Court in this area, this being one of them. To have been on the wining side is a tremendous achievement and augments the standing of our practice as leaders in this space.”