Prohibition, improvement and infringement notices
WorkSafe ACT Inspectors will issue enforcement notices including improvement, prohibition and infringement notices verbally, and in writing, when they believe a person has breached the WHS Act or Regulations, or when the breach will likely continue or be repeated. The aim of these notices is to remedy risks and matters of WHS non-compliance. Any notice given verbally must be followed immediately.
All notices must be displayed in a prominent place which is easily accessible, noticeable and where workers or other persons affected by the notice will see and have access to it.
The person who has been issued with an improvement notice must not intentionally remove, destroy, damage or deface a notice that is being displayed while the notice is in force.
Important information on a persons’ rights and obligations are included on the notice
Prohibition or improvement notices may include directions to take action. Directions may provide the person to whom it is issued a choice of ways in which to remedy the contravention and will commonly refer to a code of practice. It is not an offence to fail to comply with recommendations in a notice.
WorkSafe may make minor changes to a prohibition or improvement notice issued by an inspector.
Prohibition notices are designed to stop a workplace activity that involves a serious risk to a person’s health or safety emanating from an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard.
WorkSafe ACT inspectors can give a direction prohibiting the carrying on of an activity at a workplace (or the way an activity is carried out). It prohibits the carrying on of an activity in a specified way including:
- at a workplace, or part of a workplace at which the activity is not to be carried out
- anything that is not to be used in connection with the activity
- any procedure that is not to be followed in connection with the activity.
Where there is a failure to comply with an inspector’s notice, the regulator may prosecute or, if there is a serious risk to health and safety, may also seek an injunction against the person to whom the notice was directed.
The person to whom a direction is given, or a prohibition notice is issued must comply with the direction or notice.
The maximum penalty for non-compliance in the case of an individual is $100 000 or in the case of a body corporate—$500 000.
If a person to whom a prohibition notice is issued fails to take reasonable steps to comply with the notice WorkSafe ACT may take any reasonable remedial action to make the workplace or situation safe. The person will be advised in writing of WorkSafe’s intention to take that action, and that the person will be liable to pay for the costs of that action.
WorkSafe ACT may apply to the Supreme Court for an injunction compelling a person to comply with a notice or restraining a person from contravening a notice.
Improvement notices aim to remedy minor contraventions of the WHS Act or to prevent a likely contravention from occurring. They are issued when the matter does not involve a serious risk to the health and safety of a person emanating from an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard. An improvement notice may include directions concerning the measures to be taken to remedy the contravention or prevent the likely breach.
WorkSafe ACT can accept requests to review an improvement notice from:
- The person to whom the notice was issued
- A PCBU whose interests are affected by the decision
- A worker whose interests are affected by the decision
- A health and safety representative who represents a worker whose interests are affected by the decision.
The request must be made within the lesser of the following, the period specified in the notice for compliance with the notice, or 14 days.
An inspector may issue an infringement notice when the improvement notice is not being followed. Alternatively, the matter could be investigated which could result in possible prosecution or other enforcement action.
WorkSafe ACT can apply to the Supreme Court for an injunction, compelling a person to comply with a notice or restraining a person from contravening a notice.
Work health and safety infringement notices are an alternative to prosecution action to an organisation or person who has committed an offence against the WHS, dangerous substances, dangerous goods, or workers compensation acts.
An infringement notice is a fine which needs to be paid by the due date. If the fine is not paid on time, a reminder notice will be issued after 28 days. If the fine is still not paid, or a written request received for an extension or to dispute liability for the offence within a further 28 days, the matter may be referred to the Magistrates Court.
If the matter goes to the Magistrates Court it may result in a conviction for the offence and the offender ordered to pay a penalty imposed by the Court, plus Court costs; and be subject to other Court orders.
Where a reminder notice is issued an administration fee will be charged in addition to the original penalty.
Receiving an infringement notice or reminder notice does not prevent prosecution for other legislation breaches.
An organisation or person may apply for additional time to pay the penalty or dispute liability. Applications must be made in writing and the outcome of your request will be issued in writing.
A person may dispute liability for an infringement notice within 28 days of receiving the notice or within the period where an extension of time to dispute liability has been approved.
The application must be in writing, addressed to the Work Health and Safety Commissioner and clearly set out reasons for disputing liability.
Disputes or applications for extensions of time should be emailed to WorkSafe@act.gov.au.
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