14 min read


Last updated May 2024

This chapter explains why you can be prosecuted for breaching health and safety legislation, how a prosecution will proceed against you and what penalties you may face.

Why might you be prosecuted?

If a health and safety regulator believes you have breached health and safety legislation or regulations, you may face prosecution.

Definition: Prosecution

A prosecution is when charges are laid against a person or business for committing a criminal offence.
Important: The regulator is not obliged to lay charges every time health and safety duties are breached.

The regulator will consider the following circumstances to determine whether to lay charges:

  • the gravity of the breach;
  • your past record; and
  • the public interest.

This is called prosecutorial discretion.

Definition: Prosecutorial Discretion

Prosecutorial discretion is the choice that prosecutors have about whether to lay charges in a particular case.