New South Lawyers' Work Health and Safety Lawyers discuss why the recent OceanGate’s submarine tragedy (where all occupants inside lost their lives) bring issues of WHS and the forefront.

The disappearance and subsequent implosion of OceanGate’s submarine on a mission to the Titanic wreck will bring forward several important legal questions that will likely be queried in the weeks following the accident, specifically regarding the enforceability of contractual waivers and a Company’s work health and safety obligations..

Unfortunately, reports suggest that this may have been an event that was foreshadowed by a former employee of OceanGate. Mr David Lochridge, a former employee of the company, is said to have previously voiced concerns about the submarine’s ability to travel to the depths required to visit the Titanic.

This incident underscores the potential legal repercussions that can surface when workplace safety considerations are sidelined. In Australia, all Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) have an obligation to ensure the health and safety of workers and other persons whilst working. A failure to adhere to these obligations under the Act can invite serious legal consequences and financial sanctions.

The obligations to ensure health and safety in the workplace extend to company officers and employees in the company. Those individuals can be personally liable for safety-related incidents and may be personally prosecuted by the regulator. If a person is found to be grossly negligent or reckless as to the risks to an individual of death or serious injury or illness they may be subject to financial sanctions and even imprisonment.

It is essential for companies, officers and employees to place health and safety at the forefront of their mind. Company’s must ensure that employees feel comfortable about bringing forward safety concerns and create an open forum to discuss these issues. By cultivating an environment that emphasises safety and upholds stringent safety protocols, we can uphold our WHS obligations, mitigate risks and protect workers and the wider community.

If you are facing any WHS related issues, then please do not hesitate to reach out to myself or a member of the team at New South Lawyers who will be happy to assist. Remember, work health and safety compliance requires the proactive implementation of systems and procedures and an adaptive mindset.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those involved in the accident and their families.

Find out more, chat with a member of New South Lawyers' today.