Home Reckless endangerment – What is it and what does it mean for you?

UpdatesMay 07, 2010

Reckless endangerment – What is it and what does it mean for you?

Reckless endangerment is the offense of engaging in activity that has a disregard for risks with foreseeably dangerous consequences.

By Joanna Weekes

There has been another landmark decision in OHS on the subject of reckless endangerment.

Reckless endangerment is the offense of engaging in activity that has a disregard for risks with foreseeably dangerous consequences. As such, it is an offence and you could be charged, fined or imprisoned.

Andrew Douglas, Editor-in-Chief of the OH&S Handbook, will discuss the landmark ruling which resulted in an Australian employer being convicted of reckless endangerment.

4 steps to avoid reckless endangerment that cost you nothing!

Read Andrew’s advice about how to save yourself the time and resources in the future, by doing something to avoid recklessly endangering your employees today.

Easy! Get on top of OHS issues in your workplace today…

Don’t miss this chance to take control of safety in your workplace!

Andrew Douglas and a panel of 8 OHS experts are putting on an invaluable health and safety Training Day later this month in Melbourne. Your business should already be implementing measures to accommodate for the changes in OHS legislation that will affect everyone when harmonisation kicks in in January 2012…


Reckless Endangerment – The First Case

By Andrew Douglas

Throughout Australia, a breach of OHS obligations under the relevant OHS legislation exposes businesses and individuals to fines.

However, in four jurisdictions (Victoria, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and South Australia) there is a higher offence that can lead to individual imprisonment for recklessly endangering other persons in the workplace.

What does “recklessly” mean?

The word recklessly, in these circumstances, means knowingly doing or omitting to do something where the result was possible or probable endangerment. That is, being careless to the consequences of your actions when the risk of another person being endangered is possible or probable.

Up until a few days ago, no case of reckless endangerment had been successfully prosecuted. But the recent Victorian case of ORD Drilling resulted in the company being fined $750,000.

This fine was given after an employee died from an accident while driving a truck, due to:

  1. The employee being inadequately trained in driving the truck safely.
  2. The truck brakes being faulty, and the secondary brake had been disconnected.

Not surprisingly, the employer pleaded guilty.

Under harmonisation, where the maximum fine for this type of offence is $3 million, it would be reasonable to expect this fine would be greater than $2 million.

What are the lessons?

  1. NEVER ignore a safety risk!
  2. Maintain appropriate training and maintenance records and processes to ensure such a risk never occurs.
  3. Engage your supervisors in identifying failures in the process and “at risk” behaviours.
  4. Always induct an employee to every new piece of plant, equipment or vehicle use.

Failure at any step could lead to jail time! The 4 steps above cost you nothing, and may save your employees’ lives and your freedom.

Copied