Offence categories

Disclaimer: This is a summary of some of the provisions contained in the applicable legislation being the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Electrical Safety Act 2002 and the Safety in Recreational Water Activities Act 2011. View legislation.

Work Health and Safety Act 2011

Category 1 offence – section 31 WHS Act

A category 1 offence is described as ‘reckless conduct’.

It applies to ‘a person’ – this can be an individual (e.g. sole trader) or a body corporate (e.g. a corporation).

A person commits a category 1 offence if the person:

  • has a health and safety duty
  • without reasonable excuse, engages in conduct that exposes an individual to whom that duty is owed to a risk of death or serious injury or illness
  • is reckless as to the risk to an individual of death or serious injury or illness.

The health and safety duties are set out at sections 19 to 29 of the WHS Act.

Category 2 offence – section 32 WHS Act

A category 2 offence is described as a ‘failure to comply with a health and safety duty’.

It applies to ‘a person’ – this can be an individual (e.g. sole trader) or a body corporate (e.g. a corporation).

A person commits a category 2 offence if:

  • the person has a health and safety duty
  • the person fails to comply with that duty
  • the failure exposes an individual to a risk of death or serious injury or illness.

The health and safety duties are set out at sections 19 to 29 of the WHS Act.

Industrial manslaughter offence (PCBU) – section 34C WHS Act

This section applies to a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU). The definition of a PCBU can be found in section 5 of the WHS Act.

A PCBU commits an offence of industrial manslaughter if:

  • a worker dies while carrying out work for the business or undertaking or is injured while carrying out work for the business or undertaking and later dies
  • the PCBU’s conduct causes (i.e. substantially contributes to) the death of the worker
  • the PCBU is negligent about causing the death of the worker by the conduct.

Industrial manslaughter offence (senior officer) – section 34D WHS Act

This section applies to a senior officer of a PCBU. The definition of a senior officer can be found in section 34A(1) of the WHS Act.

A senior officer commits the offence of industrial manslaughter if:

  • a worker dies while carrying out work for the business or undertaking or is injured while carrying out work for the business or undertaking and later dies
  • the senior officer’s conduct causes (i.e. substantially contributes to) the death of the worker
  • the senior officer is negligent about causing the death of the worker by the conduct.

Electrical Safety Act 2002

Category 1 offence – section 40B ES Act

A category 1 offence is described as ‘reckless conduct’.

It applies to a ‘person’ – this can be an individual (e.g. sole trader) or a body corporate (e.g. a corporation).

A person commits a category 1 offence if the person:

  • has an electrical safety duty
  • without reasonable excuse, engages in conduct that exposes an individual to whom that duty is owed to a risk of death or serious injury or illness
  • is reckless as to the risk to an individual of death or serious injury or illness.

Category 2 offence – section 40C ES Act

A category 2 offence is described as a ‘failure to comply with an electrical safety duty’.

It applies to a ‘person’ – this can be an individual (e.g. sole trader) or a corporate entity (e.g. a corporation).

A person commits a category 2 offence if:

  • the person has an electrical safety duty
  • the person fails to comply with that duty
  • the failure exposes an individual to a risk of death or serious injury or illness.

Industrial manslaughter offence (PCBU) – section 48N ES Act

This section applies to a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU). The definition of a PCBU can be found in section 21 of the ES Act.

A PCBU commits an offence of industrial manslaughter if:

  • a worker dies while of carrying out work for the business or undertaking or is injured while carrying out work for the business or undertaking and later dies
  • the PCBU’s conduct causes (i.e. substantially contributes to) the death of the worker
  • the PCBU is negligent about causing the death of the worker by the conduct.

Industrial manslaughter offence (senior officer) – section 48O ES Act

This section applies to a senior officer of a PCBU. The definition of a senior officer can be found in section 48L of the ES Act.

A senior officer commits the offence of industrial manslaughter if:

  • a worker dies while carrying out work for the business or undertaking or is injured while carrying out work for the business or undertaking and later dies
  • the senior officer’s conduct causes (i.e. substantially contributes to) the death of the worker
  • the senior officer is negligent about causing the death of the worker by the conduct.