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Australia > Labour and employment: workplace health and safety (WHS) > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Labour and employment: workplace health and safety (WHS)
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Ashurst stands out for its work managing major safety incidents including fatalities and workplace accidents alongside strong expertise in prosecutions, work-related coronial inquests, legal compliance and risk management work. Lea Constantine heads up the department and is 'a leader in the field'; other noteworthy practitioners include Marie-Claire Foley in Perth and Brisbane-based James Hall. Hall recently advised multiple members of the coal mining industry on submissions to and appearances before a Queensland parliamentary inquiry into incidences of coal work pneumoconiosis.

Fielding 'a responsive, commercially astute and approachable team with excellent legal and industry knowledge', Clyde & Co LLP is 'superior in the market' thanks to 'incredible experience applying health and safety laws in practical situations and an ability to easily understand a client and what it needs'. Practice head Michael Tooma is 'without peer' and 'highly commercial'; he is acting for Honda Australia in a health and safety incident relating to a fatality from a potentially defective Takata airbag and advised JKC Australia LNG on an internal investigation regarding the death of a subcontractor on site. Alena Titterton is also a key name to note; she recently handled legal compliance audits and health and safety training for a variety of clients. The Department of Defence, Nokia Solutions and Networks Australia, Chubb Insurance Company of Australia and Growthbuilt are also clients.

Herbert Smith Freehills handles the full spectrum of workplace health and safety (WHS) mandates spanning risk management advice, compliance issues and WHS prosecutions. Sydney-based Miles Bastick leads the practice nationally, which also includes Steve Bell and newly promoted partner Anna Creegan in Melbourne and Perth respectively. Among recent highlights were Bell advising on the occupational health and safety issues associated with the Metro Tunnel Rail project in Victoria, representing Bradken Resources in a prosecution by WorkSafe Victoria relating to alleged breaches of health and safety law, and Downes assisting Hay Point Coal Terminal with a successful exemption application following the discovery of asbestos in 13 of its buildings. Australia Post, BHP Billiton and Hastings Deering are also clients. Senior associate Nerida Jessup is singled out. Harold Downes has moved to Mills Oakley.

Shae McCartney leads the national safety practice at Clayton Utz, which handles the full breadth of matters with recent work including advising Metro South Hospital and Health Service on the safety and privacy risks related to its proposed introduction of body worn cameras on staff and assisting Victoria's Level Crossing Removal Authority with the occupational health and safety issues surrounding the removal of train level crossings including the development of a safety framework and a management plan. Other key practitioners include Hedy Cray, who is 'immensely calm in a crisis situation'; Robbie Walker and Stuart Pill. Danika Casey joined McCullough Robertson in 2018.

K&L Gates' 'excellent team makes sure that clients have its complete support throughout'; it includes 'brilliant' group head Gerard Phillips and John Makris, 'a go-to practitioner who dedicates himself to the cause and ensures that the advice he gives is practical, pragmatic and savvy'. The group has notable expertise in the construction, mining, infrastructure, transport and healthcare sectors; recent work includes representing a mining client in proceedings following a trenching incident at a mine, acting for two clients in a prosecution following two fatalities during the construction of the Royal Adelaide Hospital, and advising Thiess on charges for two alleged breaches of its duty of care relating to maintenance work resulting in a worker being engulfed in flames. Paul Hardman is also recommended.

Catherine Dunlop and Bruce Heddle jointly lead Maddocks' safety practice from Melbourne and Sydney respectively; Dunlop is 'an excellent communicator who brings advice to life with practical applications and has an ability to rapidly assess key issues and priorities'. The standalone department is notable for its public sector expertise; clients include Australian Home Care Services, Australasian Fire Authority and the Commonwealth Department of Defence. Dunlop and Ross Jackson conducted a review of police disciplinary systems and related safety issues for the Victoria Police; Dunlop also assisted the State Coroner of Victoria with an inquest into the deaths of five civilians in a Melbourne vehicle attack and acted for the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator in a prosecution of Metro Trains Melbourne regarding alleged safety failures.

Boutique firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP's full service practice encompasses risk analysis and risk control implementation, crisis management and post-incident support. The team recently conducted a review of the health and safety regulatory framework in the building and construction industry for the Department of Jobs and Small Business; Jane Hall led the advice. Other key individuals include the highly regarded Paul Cutrone, who handles domestic and cross-border matters; and senior associates Sarah Goodhew and Sam Witton.

Greg McCann leads the practice at Colin Biggers & Paisley and handles issues in a wide range of industries including the transport, construction, mining, retail and oil and gas sectors. His recent work includes defending Perilya in the first work health and safety mining prosecution in New South Wales. The team also includes Megan Kavanagh in Brisbane and Cathryn Prowse and Paul O’Halloran in Melbourne; O'Halloran has significant expertise in the education sector and advised the Australian Province of the Society of Jesus on issues relating to the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse in schools.

With notable expertise in the energy, natural resources and mining and minerals sectors, Corrs Chambers Westgarth counts International Piping Products, the Australian Building and Construction Commission and Glencore as clients. Other key clients include Weir Minerals Australia, which it advised on multiple health and safety issues, and DOF Subsea, which it acted for in issues arising from a group of deep sea divers who are claiming long-term serious health issues resulting from a dive. John Tuck leads the department, which also includes Jack de Flamingh and Nicholas Ellery.

At HWL Ebsworth, practice head Mark Howard is recognised for his incident investigation expertise, Clare Raimondo handles health and safety prosecutions and Colin Almond focuses on contentious work. The department is a key name for insurance clients; examples include Chubb Insurance Australia, AIG and Zurich Financial Services Australia. In a recent highlight, newly promoted partner Sian Gilbert advised Schwing Australia, which was charged with category 1 offences arising from a construction site fatality; other work includes representing Ritchies Stores in a prosecution for failure to provide a safe system of work, and acting for Freyssinet Australia in issues following a worker injury on a construction site.

Led by Murray Kellock, King & Wood Mallesons' department excels in handling major safety incidents and disasters; recent examples include advising on employee fatalities, injuries and high-profile investigations. Other key names to note include Andrew Gray, who handles serious workplace safety incidents; Jamie Wells, who has experience in advisory work and incident management; and Philip Willox, who leads the Perth dispute resolution team. The group's client roster includes Westfield, National Australia Bank, Aurizon, Sunrice and Caterpillar.

Recent mandates for Lander & Rogers include representing Byron Bay Dive Centre in proceedings brought by SafeWork NSW relating to the death of a customer while snorkelling as part of a tour it was operating and assisting a client with safety obligations. Daniel Proietto leads the wider workplace relations and safety practice, which also fields Tony Woods and Aaron Goonrey; Woods manages safety risks and defends workplace health and safety prosecutions, while Goonrey has experience in workplace investigations.

Minter Ellison's national practice counts Jim Fox, Dan Williams, Amanda Watt and Kathy Reid as key practitioners in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth respectively. Reid recently developed a best practice occupational health and safety management system for St John Ambulance Western Australia and Harriet Eager advised a client on its safety management system following a health and safety incident. Clients include Anglo Coal, Frasers Property, Multiplex, Yancoal and Brookfield Global Integrated Solutions.

Norton Rose Fulbright 'provides an amazing service with short response times, highly appropriate, tailored and digestible advice and a deep understanding of the market and its clients'. The department handles safety prosecutions, compliance issues and assists with emergency responses and the management of crisis situations. Aaron Anderson leads the group; he recently assisted a client with the safety elements of its operations and represented another client in an inquest relating to the fatal electrocution of a worker at a construction site. Katherine Morris is also recommended and is a key name for construction, property, transport and energy clients.

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