The Cost of Health & Safety Breaches

The Department of Labour publishes statistics on health and safety prosecutions, starting at 2006. The chart below shows the average fines and reparations per charge for each year from 2006 to 2011. Data for 2012 is not yet available.

Prior to 2008, the average fine + reparation was just $18,500. From 2008 onwards, the average has been approximately $44,200. The clear step change appears to be the result of a combination of a change in the maximum penalties available under the law and a successful appeal by the Department of Labour.

Another notable feature from the chart is that average fines steadily increased from approximately $5,600 in 2006 to approximately $28,900 in 2010.

The true cost to a business of a health and safety conviction is much higher than these figures. A single prosecution may include multiple charges: the figures shown in the chart are per convicted charge. In addition there are: the legal fees involved in a defence - which could start at around $20,000; the lost productivity from the accident; and the lost productivity from the staff and management involved in the defence.

Could your business withstand a $60,000 cash flow "hit"? Make sure you have your Health & Safety systems in place and integrated into your standard operations. Please contact us to discuss how we can help.