Can a H&S Consultant be liable? (Section 36 of the H&S at Work Act)

H&S Consultant in jail Section 36

Section 36 of the Health and Safety at Work Act deals with offences that are committed due to the fault of another. Consider an individual or an organisation (we’ll refer to as ‘A’), that commits an offence because of an act or default of another person or entity (we’ll refer to as ‘B’). ‘B’ may also be charged and convicted of the offence, as well as, or instead of ‘A’.

The provision applies to various scenarios and can significantly affect A and B.

Consider a H&S Consultant who prepared a risk assessment for a client on a woodworking machine. Unfortunately, an employee of his client injured his hand while operating this machine. It was later discovered that the machine’s risk assessment fell significantly short of the required standards, contributing to the accident. The assessment failed to identify the danger of the machine snatching at pieces of wood. Although the H&S Consultant had many years of experience, he was unfamiliar with this type of machinery.

In this scenario, the H&S Consultant and the client may be liable for the offence. The H&S Consultant may be charged and convicted of the offence due to his act of preparing an inadequate risk assessment, while the client may be charged and convicted of the offence due to their act of allowing the machine to be operated despite the known risks.

Section 36 is an important provision that ensures those responsible for committing offences are held accountable, regardless of their position or status. Therefore, it is essential to understand the implications of this provision to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to prevent offences from being committed due to the fault of another person or entity.