Officers' due diligence: making work health and safety an accounting problem?

Sharron O'Neill, Karen Wolfe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution

Abstract

Purpose New work health and safety (WHS) legislation in many Australian States and Territories places specific due diligence obligations on the officers of an organisation. This paper questions whether imposing an enforceable WHS duty of care on accounting and finance officers is justified and appropriate. Design / methodology / approach The paper critically examines the capacity of accountants and accounting to influence work-related injury and illness outcomes across an organisation. Detailed third-party investigations into fatal WHS failures are reviewed, focusing on the web of contributing factors identified in each case study. Factors that may be traced, directly or indirectly, to accounting practices are identified and explored. Findings The findings suggest accounting practices, such as the resourcing and performance management decisions of accountants, financial controllers, chief financial officers, chief executive officers and directors, can contribute significantly to an increase in WHS failure risk. Consequently, the imposition of WHS duty of care and due diligence obligations on accounting officers appears justified.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPapers from the 11th A-CSEAR Conference
Subtitle of host publicationpeople and place
Place of PublicationWollongong, NSW
PublisherUniversity of Wollongong, Research Online
Pages1-22
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventAustralasian Centre on Social and Environmental Accounting Research Conference (11th : 2012) - Wollongong, NSW
Duration: 2 Dec 20124 Dec 2012

Conference

ConferenceAustralasian Centre on Social and Environmental Accounting Research Conference (11th : 2012)
CityWollongong, NSW
Period2/12/124/12/12

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