On 7 June 2011, the Work Health & Safety Act 2011 became law in NSW. The WHS Act repealed the Occupational Health & Safety Act 2000 and made three significant changes to the old law.
First, the new Act does away with the reverse onus of proof, which under the old law, meant, in effect, that all the prosecution had to prove was a work accident and then the onus shifted to the defence, which had to prove that the actions, that might have been taken to avoid the accident, were “not reasonably practicable”. This statutory reversal of the onus of proof was an assault on that principle of English criminal law, which Rumpole called the “golden thread”, namely that the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt every single element of the crime charged and the defence does not have to prove a thing. … Read More