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Work health and safety (WHS) charges must include more detailed particulars about the alleged offences, a Queensland appeals court has ruled.

In June 2007, NK Collins Industries Pty Ltd was found guilty in the Industrial Magistrates Court of Queensland for breaching the Queensland Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 after one of its workers was killed.

Initially, the company tried unsuccessfully to appeal the ruling, arguing that the WHS charges levelled against it had failed to include specific acts or omissions.

It then took its case to the Supreme Court of Queensland – Court of Appeal.

The company based its appeal on Kirk v Industrial Relations Commission; Kirk Group Holdings Pty Ltd v WorkCover Authority of New South Wales (Inspector Childs) [2010] HCA 1 (3 February 2010).

In line with the Kirk ruling, the Court of Appeal found “it was incumbent on the prosecution to identify the measure or measures which should have been taken to ensure workers’ safety from the risk …

“That would in turn clarify what the risk was… It would then fall to the applicant to make out its defence…”

The Court of Appeal has ordered that earlier appeal and review orders be set aside and the case be sent back to the Industrial Court to be determined according to the law.

For more details, visit the NK Collins case and the Kirk case.

Published on 1 August 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

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