Improvement, prohibition and penalty notices

We can (under some circumstances) issue improvement notices or prohibition notices, when there is a contravention of the work health and safety (WHS) laws or of the workers compensation legislation.

We may also issue a penalty notice for some offences, rather than prosecuting through the courts.

Improvement notices

We can issue an improvement notice when there is a safety issue that needs to be fixed or if workers compensation requirements are not being met.

The workplace can generally continue operating while the improvement notice is being actioned, however the notice will require the issue to be fixed within a specified time. In appropriate circumstances, improvement notices will correct unsafe work practices very quickly.

For example, an improvement notice may require a business  to fix a slip hazard or to train workers in the safe use of plant and equipment, while continuing day-to-day business.

Improvement notices may also be issued to require a person to comply with procedures under the workers compensation legislation.

Prohibition notices

If we believe that an activity at work involves a more serious risk to health or safety, then we can issue a prohibition notice  to stop work immediately.

A prohibition notice may include directions to stop the activity or to change the way the activity is done, to prevent illness or injury.

For example, if scaffolding is not safe to be used, we will issue a prohibition notice to stop work immediately on or around the scaffolding until the issue is fixed.

Penalty notices

A penalty notice may be issued for certain serious offences, for example removing asbestos without a licence.

Because they do not involve court proceedings, they are a quicker option for dealing with offences under WHS laws or the workers compensation legislation.

If you're issued with a penalty notice, you can choose to pay it (which will finalise the matter) or you may choose to have the matter dealt with by the court.

We do not set the penalty notice amount. The amount is specified in legislation and is much lower than the maximum penalty that may be issued by the court.

Further information

If you don't agree with a decision made by one of our inspectors you can request an internal review.  To do so you need to submit the Inspector decisions and work health and safety authorisations – application for internal review form.

Our inspector decisions and work health and safety authorisations – application for internal review guide has more information to help you fill out the form.