Hall Of Fame

Firms To Watch: Labour and employment: workplace health and safety (WHS)

Led by Melbourne-based Gina Capasso partner, KHQ Lawyers handles a broad range of WHS matters, covering workplace incidents, unfair dismissal and regulatory litigation for their clients, which are a blend of domestic, global and multinational companies.

Labour and employment: workplace health and safety (WHS) in Australia


With offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and Perth, market leader Ashurst boasts a strong national presence which attracts a plethora of blue-chip multinationals, domestic corporates as well as federal and state governments. The team is well versed in conducting workplace investigations, dealing with psychological risks and cases of harassment, bullying and discrimination. The team is home to practice head Lea Constantine, in the Sydney office, who is known for her sound strategic advice along with her work with high-risk events, investigations and inquiries, as well as former prosecutor Scarlet Reid, who has in-depth knowledge of workplace health and safety (WHS) law and advises on prosecutions and safety compliance. James Hall’s health and safety expertise is sought out by major coal companies in Queensland in particular.

Practice head(s):

Lea Constantine

Other key lawyers:

James Hall; Scarlet Reid; Julia Sutherland; Stephen Woodbury


‘The team has strength across its practices, with some particularly skilled and experienced practitioners.’

‘They are personable and clear in their advice in a way that provides a high degree of confidence.’

‘Lea Constantine and Julia Sutherland care about the people and the organisations they are working with and are committed to supporting them through what are usually difficult situations.’

Key clients

NSW Government

Woolworths Group Limited

Qantas Airways

Anglo American


Endeavour Energy Network

Commonwealth Government


Port Kembla Coal Terminal

Victorian Government

Alcoa of Australia Limited


Work highlights

  • Advising Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) in relation to two landmark prosecutions brought by SafeWork NSW in the District Court of NSW for failures to minimise the risk of psychosocial harm in the workplace.
  • Acting for Qantas Ground Services in relation to prosecutions commenced by SafeWork NSW following allegations of discriminatory conduct towards a health and safety representative.
  • Advising Anglo American with respect to a fatality that occurred at its Moranbah North mine on 25 March 2022.

Clyde & Co LLP

With offices across Australia and throughout the Asia Pacific region, workplace health and safety authority Clyde & Co LLP has national expertise and global capabilities. The team deals with all manner of general day-to-day workplace disputes, including high-profile and contentious matters involving allegations of sexual harassment, bullying and gender discrimination. Alena Titterton is known for her ability to handle prosecutions and investigations, specialising in anti-terrorism, biosecurity and cybersecurity. Michael Tooma and Kiri Jervis left the firm in November 2023.

Other key lawyers:

Alena Titterton


‘Excellent industry knowledge and credibility. Responsive and available. Business-like approach to the work. Provide good updates and progress reports.’

‘Very approachable, available and knowledgeable. Easy to work with. Have great industry credibility and was a very safe pair of hands. Struggle to see how you could engage someone who would give you more confidence and industry knowledge.’

‘A highly professional team that is as much about proactive legal support as it is when an incident has occurred. The tools such as the DDi, Clyde Comply and PIM, (positive investigation methodology) are giving industry real metrics to measure and report positive safety cultures and leadership.’

Clayton Utz

The team at Clayton Utz is highly sought after in the infrastructure, energy, natural resources and construction sectors, among others. The practice is co-headed by Brisbane-based partner Shae McCartney, who assists private and public sector clients with incident response, prosecution management and policy review, along with Dan Trindade in Melbourne, who is well versed in dealing with court prosecution. Another name to note is Hilary Searing, who advises on incident response (including how to deal with police and media after serious incidents), conducts safety investigations and has litigation experience in defending complex matters.

Practice head(s):

Shae McCartney; Dan Trindade

Other key lawyers:

Hilary Searing


‘The practice, led by Shae McCartney, is responsive and acts with all due haste. Advice is succinct and precise. Good access to the best Counsel. Use of meeting technology is second-nature to them.’

‘A deep interest in the client and their organisation – and interest in how it can assist to make the organisation better.’

‘The team has such great and knowledgeable staff. It is satisfying to know when there is an issue you can rely on very experienced and specialised staff. They are available at a moment’s notice when something happens and can deal with any area of law.’

Key clients

Austal Ships

Major Projects Canberra

Australian Rail Track Corporation

Sunshine Coast University

Suburban Rail Loop Authority

State Governments: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries; Department of Education; Major Projects Canberra

Mineral Resources

Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)


Safe Work Australia

Concord Golf

Administrative Appeals Tribunal

The Department of Home Affairs

Australian Federal Police


Australian Public Service Commission

The University of Melbourne

University of Sydney

University of Queensland

University of Western Australia

Work highlights

  • Advising Sunshine Coast University regarding an Improvement Notice received by the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland regulator.
  • Providing safety advice for the Suburban Rail Loop Authority, as well as advice, support and training on OHS matters.
  • Advising Fortescue Future Industries on the establishment of a major hazard facility which proposes to produce green hydrogen, through decarbonisation of ammonia.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth

With offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane, Corrs Chambers Westgarth has a strong presence across the country. The team’s strengths lie in settling contentious issues and providing advice to clients across a number of key industry sectors, including financial services, retail, government, infrastructure and energy. Practice head John Tuck is known by national businesses, corporate clients and federal governments for his expert handling of investigations, projects and employment strategies. Marie Costa assists with initial advisory work and preventative training, as well as investigatory work and prosecutions. The team has recently welcomed new hires Kirsty Faichen and Giacomo Giorgi from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP.

Practice head(s):

John Tuck

Other key lawyers:

Marie Costa; Giacomo Giorgi, Kirsty Faichen

Key clients


Cathay Pacific

Commonwealth Bank of Australia



National Australia Bank


State of Victoria


Work highlights

  • Represented RMIT University in relation to a sensitive general protections matter brought against it in the Federal Court alleging adverse action based on the applicant’s sexual orientation and indigeneity.
  • Advised on Glencore’s legal obligations under work health and safety laws in Queensland and New South Wales.
  • Acting for Network 10, a prominent Australian commercial television network, in Federal Court of Australia proceedings commenced by a reporter.

Herbert Smith Freehills

Fielding skilled practitioners across Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Sydney, Herbert Smith Freehills leverages national expertise across a variety of work health and safety matters. The practice is led by Steve Bell, who is highly sought after by clients for advice on employment litigation and risk management. The team is bolstered by Miles Bastick, who is the first point of contact when it comes to high-risk and private employment and safety matters, and by the input of Aaron Anderson, who has 24 years’ experience working in health and safety. Anderson regularly acts for clients in investigations and prosecutions, as does key practitioner Anna Creegan.

Practice head(s):

Steve Bell

Other key lawyers:

Aaron Anderson; Drew Pearson; Miles Bastick; Anna Creegan; Nerida Jessup

Key clients




Optus (NSW)



NSW, Victoria, Queensland and WA State Governments



Virgin Australia

Work highlights

  • Working with the Australian Human Rights Commission to develop the Guidelines for the Targeted Recruitment of People with Disability.
  • Advising an ASX-listed employer on an investigation into workplace culture and psychological safety.
  • Representing DuluxGroup in the Fair Work Commission and Federal Court proceedings brought by the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU).

Kingston Reid

Kingston Reid offers clients a ‘truly national’ practice, with practitioners based across its offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane, allowing ‘members from the team to cover all jurisdictions simultaneously’. The team works to help businesses comply with the law, not only by offering training and guidance across workplace health and safety but by putting the systems in place that allow them to do so. Practice head John Makris (Sydney) provides advice to clients within the transport sector, while Michael Stutley (Perth) attracts clients from health and aged care, often representing clients in courts. Erica Elliott (Sydney), who has 15 years of litigation experience, focuses on helping prevent workplace incidents before they occur, as well as responding to them when they do.

Practice head(s):

John Makris

Other key lawyers:

Michael Stutley; Erica Elliott


‘Experienced and dedicated.’

‘The team is a truly national one. Members from the team cover all jurisdictions simultaneously, which not only means clients’ needs can be met locally, but also a sharing of skills ensures first-rate service.’

‘They are true professionals and exceptional to work with.’

Key clients

CPB Contractors

Downer Group

John Holland Group

BGC Group

NRW Contracting

McConnell Dowell Constructors


UGL Limited

Pacific National

Perenti Global

Mondiale VGL

Opal Aged Care

NSW Government



Fortescue Metals Group

St John Ambulance Western Australia

Capricorn Metals

Rehabilitation Injury Management

Goondiwindi Regional Council

Australian Clinical Labs

Canterbury Bankstown City Council (CBCC)

Work highlights

  • Advising Rehabilitation Injury Management on the threatened closure of the business by a regulator.
  • Advising and representing Australian Clinical Laboratories in relation to a sharp increase in regulator interest in the business.
  • Advising and representing the Goondiwindi Regional Council in relation to a prosecution for a breach of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld).


The team at Maddocks is well versed in dealing with a variety of workplace health and safety matters, such as bullying, anti-discrimination, unfair dismissals and contract terminations, attracting instructions from governmental bodies and large multinationals. The department's breadth of experience also extends to Federal and High Court representation. Catherine Dunlop is often sought after for her ability to navigate fatality responses and sensitive sexual harassment matters; she co-leads the practice from Melbourne with Bruce Heddle, who has over 35 years of experience working on employment and workplace health and safety matters.

Practice head(s):

Catherine Dunlop; Bruce Heddle

Key clients

Commonwealth of Australia – Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

Commonwealth of Australia – Director of National Parks

State of Victoria – Department of Health

State of Victoria – Department of Families, Fairness and Housing

State of Victoria – Court Services Victoria


Fire Rescue Victoria


Victoria Police



Eurobodalla Shire Council

Commonwealth of Australia – Australian Communications and Media Authority

Barwon Water


Commonwealth of Australia – Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

Work highlights

  • Advising some of the largest employers across Victoria and New South Wales on mandatory vaccination requirements.
  • Advising 7-Eleven on WHS matters, including responsibilities, contractor arrangements, mental health and safety incidents around Australia.

Norton Rose Fulbright

The team at Norton Rose Fulbright offers clients assistance across the full life cycle of  workplace health and safety issues, from regulatory and compliance through to crisis response, investigations and prosecutions. Katherine Morris steers the group, which is sought by clients from the renewables and infrastructure sectors for assistance with compliance as well as psychosocial risk management. The deep bench features Martin Osborne, known for his ‘excellent regulatory advice and great knowledge of regulator drivers’, and the ‘attentive and responsive’ Nicki Milionis.

Practice head(s):

Katherine Morris

Other key lawyers:

Nicki Milionis; Martin Osborne


‘Excellent regulatory lawyers.’

‘Martin Osborne – excellent regulatory advice and great knowledge of regulator drivers.’

‘The firm’s strength is the knowledge and experience of its people.’

Key clients

Acciona Infrastructure Australia Pty Ltd

APA Group

Arrow Energy

Australian Gas Infrastructure Group

Centennial Parklands

Chevron Australia Pty Ltd

Coleman Rail

Commonwealth Department of Science, Industry, Energy and Resources

CWP Renewables

Department of Families, Fairness and Housing

Energy Queensland

Fulton Hogan


Hansen Yuncken

Honda Australia

Kyle Road – Developers

Laing O’Rourke Australia Construction Pty Ltd



Luxxotica (OPSM)

McConnell Dowell Constructors (Aust) Pty Ltd


Office of the Department of Public Prosecutions



Service Stream


Veolia Environmental Services

Vestas Australian Wind Technology


Work highlights

  • Acted for the Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing facing criminal prosecutions under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) (OHS Act).

Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Seyfarth Shaw LLP’s clients, which are often multinationals operating in the telecoms, manufacturing, construction, mining and resources sectors, turn to the group for its strong workplace health and safety capabilities. In Sydney, leadership of the practice is shared between Paul Cutrone, who handles policy issues and incident management, and Darren Perry, who manages contract termination disputes, while in Melbourne, practice co-head Penny Stevens routinely attends to matters of client defence and prosecution.

Practice head(s):

Darren Perry; Paul Cutrone; Penny Stevens

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Goodhew; Nicholas Neil


‘The team has a deep understanding of legal strategy, breaking up tasks within the team to those who have the best skills to undertake each relevant task. The attention to detail and the manner in which they complement each other’s input is impressive.’

‘Sarah Goodhew is an outstanding partner because she leads the team both strategically and collaboratively. Her legal knowledge is first class, and she ensures that she is on top of all the varying tasks being undertaken in the litigation.’

‘Nicholas Neil has an excellent legal mind with terrific research skills – always finding not only relevant precedents but also academic and parliamentary literature on point.’

Key clients

National Roads & Motorists Association (NRMA) Group

Global engineering company

Psychological health and safety in Australia

An Australian mining and engineering company

Work highlights

  • Aided a global engineering company to review the legal standards and frameworks for managing workplace psychosocial risks across 10 jurisdictions globally.
  • Aided in raising awareness and addressing psychosocial hazards unique to various workplaces and industries.
  • Assisting an Australian mining group with the development of its contractor engagement strategy and update of contractor engagement processes.


The WHS team at Allens handles a breadth of matters, from initial due diligence and safety training through to regulatory investigations and litigation. Simon Dewberry, who specialises in matters of discrimination, harassment and termination of employment, co-leads the practice alongside Samantha Betzien, who arrived from Minter Ellison in 2022. Betzien is well versed in compliance and risk management, as well as investigations and court prosecutions.

Practice head(s):

Samantha Betzien; Simon Dewberry


‘The practice provides concise and practical legal advice that helps us effectively manage risk and legal compliance in our workplace.’

‘Sam is an exceptional legal advisor who has stewarded our business through some extremely challenging issues. Her support has been invaluable.’

‘WHS advice in a complex multinational business is a challenging beast. The team has been successful in seamlessly integrating with the business’ in-house legal function to provide direct advice to internal stakeholders in a manner which is clear and decipherable – even by clients based in foreign jurisdictions for whom English is a second language.’

Key clients









Super Retail Group

Work highlights

  • Represented Rio Tinto entities in two prosecutions in respect of safety incidents.
  • Advised various clients, including DuPont, Mirvac and Bank of China, on the management of claims of workplace injuries.
  • Aided various clients, including BAE Systems, Bank of China and DuPont, on the requirement for training on work health and safety duties.

Colin Biggers & Paisley

The WHS team at Colin Biggers & Paisley is highly sought after by companies in the construction, aged and community care, and education sectors, where it is known for advising on employee safety, risk management and managing industrial relations. Greg McCann leads the practice from the Sydney office and leverages his expertise in the mining and local government sectors, while Brisbane-based partner Megan Kavanagh advises on a variety of WHS matters, from bullying and investigations to, more recently, psychosocial hazards within the workplace.

Practice head(s):

Greg McCann

Other key lawyers:

Megan Kavanagh

Work highlights

  • Assisting a mining client in an investigation conducted by the NSW Resources Regulator following the injury of an experienced mine worker.
  • Advising a diving organisation on police and SafeWork NSW investigations following a serious medical episode experienced by a course participant.
  • Representing a transport client in two separate court appearances responding to alleged breaches of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulation.

King & Wood Mallesons

Known for its ability to juggle regulatory compliance work and litigious matters, King & Wood Mallesons attracts a range of clients from the natural resources, financial services and real estate sectors. The practice is jointly led by Philip Willox, who is a key point of contact for those seeking help with workplace injury and investigations as well as bullying and sexual harassment cases, and Andrew Gray, who assists companies with the development of safety governance systems. Both practitioners have 30 years of experience working on WHS matters. Ruth Rosedale is another name to note; her practice encompasses both contentious and non-contentious health and safety matters.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Gray, Philip Willox

Other key lawyers:

Ruth Rosedale

Key clients

Macquarie Asset Management

Bloomfield Group



Gladstone Ports

Paraway Pastoral


Museum of Queensland

Scentre group

Hanson Construction


Work highlights

  • Advised MAM (Macquarie Asset Management) on its approach to WHS governance across its portfolio of assets.
  • Advising on several ongoing safety investigations for clients in the energy and resources, mining, industrials and consumer, agriculture, real estate and construction sectors.
  • Advising a range of clients on their COVID management plans and their return-to-work arrangements, including major employers such as Citigroup.

K&L Gates

With WHS teams based across Australia, K&L Gates offers clients a national service, which attracts domestic corporates and government agencies alike. The practice benefits from the dual leadership of Paul Hardman, whose focus is on the agribusiness and resources sectors, and Stephen Hardy, whose practice has an emphasis on matters in the property and construction industries. The deep bench includes Alanna Fitzpatrick, who ‘can be relied upon for support in time-pressure situations’ and Dominic Fleeton, who is considered ‘the go-to person for WHS advisory in Melbourne’, both of whom are routinely sought out by clients for advice on safety compliance, investigations and court prosecutions.

Practice head(s):

Paul Hardman; Stephen Hardy

Other key lawyers:

Dominic Fleeton; Alanna Fitzpatrick


‘Deep knowledge of the practice area with exceptional commercial overlay, which makes service delivery targeted and timely.’

‘Highly approachable, affable and available: nothing is too much trouble.’

‘The WHS team are practical, outcome focused and very responsive. They have an easy manner and are able to help communicate from Board level right through to entry level operational staff in a way that is accessible. Their ability to get to the heart of an issue quickly and identify risks and both immediate and longer-term practical responses makes them an invaluable extension of my team.’

‘I particularly value the deep industry knowledge that the WHS team at K&L Gates and their specific individual team members have of the agribusiness sector and my business specifically. This makes them stand out from competitors, particularly because they remain price competitive and highly responsive.’

‘Paul Hardman and Alanna Fitzpatrick, in particular, have both invested heavily in learning our business, operations and priorities and bring practical solutions that reflect the needs of our business and strike a balance between legal risk management and the business’ willingness to change.’

‘Paul’s professionalism and candour makes him a go-to for boardroom briefings, in addition to international & institutional shareholder engagement. Paul is exceptional to engage with, and clients are safe in the knowledge he has and continues to build an exemplary team around him to support client needs.’

‘Alanna can be relied upon to support clients in time-pressure situations where it is key to have the ability to step back and remain focused at the strategic level.’

‘Dominic remains the go-to person for WHS advisory in Melbourne for our executive as well as functional teams. His ability to see and share strategic insight to help facilitate next steps for an organisation is strongly recognised within our teams.’

Key clients

Ardent Leisure (Dreamworld Employees)

Commercial Passengers Vehicles Victoria

Victorian Government – Department of Education

Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA)

Work highlights

  • Advising VMIA on a number of WHS-related matters.
  • Defended Onsite Rental Group Operations in a prosecution by the Queensland Work Health and Safety Regulator.
  • Assisted the Master Builders Association of Victoria on compliance with specific aspects of Victoria’s occupational health and safety legislation.

Mills Oakley

A mix of high-profile corporates, private companies and government agencies make up the stellar client base of Mills Oakley, all turning to the group for advice on WHS matters, from initial due diligence work and incident response through to investigations and court appellate trials. Leadership of the practice is shared between six lawyers: in Brisbane, Harold Downes brings 30 years of experience helping clients with safety compliance and incident response, and in Melbourne, Ross Levin’s practice blends health and safety defence with health and safety fraud matters. In the Sydney office, Laura Sowden routinely represents respondents in cases of discrimination, harassment and unfair dismissal before various courts, and Malcolm Davis brings over 20 years of experience advising clients in the construction and agricultural sectors on health and safety. Canberra-based partner William Ward proficiently juggles a range of general protection claims, and Rob Humphreys in Perth advises on workplace incidents and investigations.

Practice head(s):

Harold Downes; Ross Levin; Laura Sowden; William Ward; Malcolm Davis; Rob Humphreys

Key clients



Rio Tinto



Teys Group

Lipman Construction

The Riverside Coal Company

Hitachi Rail


Mulpha Group

Cox Automotive Australia

Ramelius Resources


Janssen-Cilag and Johnson & Johnson

Shamrock Civil Construction Company

Destination Gold Coast Consortium


The Salvation Army


Shadforth Construction

Hastings Deering Australia Ltd


Work highlights

  • Advising Lipman on a strategy to challenge an Improvement Notice issued by SafeWork NSW to reduce the range of matters for which Lipman could be prosecuted.
  • Advising a global company on a change of the approach taken to the selection, engagement and management of contractors since it commenced operations.
  • Advising a private client on a potential industrial manslaughter offence, which carries a maximum 20 year prison sentence and no option for a fine.


The team at Minter Ellison works with clients from a range of sectors, from transport to health. Co-led by Deanna McMaster, a specialist in health and safety, and experienced practitioner Trent Forno, the group advises on the gamut of WHS matters. The ‘exceptional’ Harriet Eager handles work in the financial services and higher education sectors, while Craig Boyle assists clients in the agriculture, logistics and mining sectors. Rhian O’Sullivan advises across the private and public sectors and represents clients in various courts and tribunals.

Practice head(s):

Deanna McMaster, Trent Forno

Other key lawyers:

Craig Boyle; Harriet Eager; Rhian O’Sullivan


‘Highly responsive to their clients’ needs. The team is timely with communication, collaborative on all aspects of development of case strategy and always professional.’

‘Extremely competent and practical advice in a responsive manner. Great transparency on billing. Pleasure to work with – a diverse team.’

‘Harriet Eager – exceptional – ability to give pragmatic advice, broad industry experience and responsive.’

‘Because of its structure, involving lawyers, senior associates and partner, the team provides the client with expertise at all levels of litigation strategy, in an effective and cost-conscious way.’

‘The team is highly motivated and responsive. Each lawyer provides strategic and legal insights that are invaluable to comprehensive and sound resolution of a case.’

‘Harriet Eager – deep expertise and client focus.’

Key clients

Queensland Rail

Brisbane Airport Corporation

Regional Quarries Australia Pty Ltd

Aussie Skips Recycling Pty Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised Horizon Power on amending and updating its safety policies and procedures to ensure they aligned with the new Work Health and Safety Act 2020 and underlying regulations.
  • Advised and represented Aussie Skips and its officers’ response to a workplace fatality and the associated investigation by SafeWork NSW.
  • Acting for Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service in the external review of improvement notices issued before the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.

Piper Alderman

Piper Alderman's expertise spans the gamut of WHS matters, from initial legal advice through to defence and prosecution. Under the guidance of practice head Shane Entriken, who leads from Perth, the team educates and advises their predominantly national client base – consisting of boards, employers, officers and regulators – on a range of health and safety matters. The strong bench includes Andrew Jonklaas, who advises on health and safety compliance, particularly within the mining, transport and energy industries, and Lauren Baker, whose practice blends strategic advice with disputes and court litigation services.

Practice head(s):

Shane Entriken

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Jonklass; Lauren Baker


‘Each team member at Piper Alderman is exceptional.’

‘Piper Alderman is an excellent firm that gives generously to the community. They provide excellent pro bono service to many charities that need assistance.’

‘Their invaluable assistance extended to every stage, from conceptualization to seamless industry implementation.’

‘Few professionals exhibit the unique combination of insight, dedication, and leadership that Shane Entriken represents.’

‘Shane not only showcases a profound grasp of intricate legal affairs but also steers through complex challenges with remarkable finesse. His selfless dedication to clients’ concerns, coupled with a natural talent for pinpointing inventive resolutions, firmly establishes him in his field.’

‘Shane’s exceptional leadership prowess extends beyond the legal domain, prominently manifested through his pro bono endeavours. His active role in nurturing a culture of collaboration and advancement further underscores his outstanding leadership acumen.’

Key clients

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency

Work highlights

  • Acts for the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), which works in partnership with 15 National Boards to ensure the community has access to a safe health workforce.
  • Acts for a private company representing the interests of the daughter of a late mining entrepreneur.
  • Conducting work health and safety due diligence training for directors and officers of organisations on a regular basis.