Work Health & Safety Queensland

Requirement to Attend Interview or Produce Documents

Get informed about the law, your rights, and responsibilities

Inspectors with Work Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) have powers that allow them to compel people to provide information and access to documents and other records, which they may seize. They may also compel people to answer their questions. Getting advice from an experienced lawyer can be crucial to understanding your rights and obligations.

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WHSQ Coercive Powers

Anderson Legal assists individuals and businesses dealing with investigations and interviews conducted by WHSQ.


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WHSQ Coercive Powers

Anderson Legal assists individuals and businesses dealing with investigations and interviews conducted by WHSQ.

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View our growing library of articles and webinars, which are accessible no matter the time of day or night.

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Anderson Legal provides a free, no-obligation consultation to understand whether this firm can assist you.

Work Health & Safety Queensland Powers

Before you can decide how to manage your rights and responsibilities, you must first understand them.
This section deals with the following:
Criminal Defence Image

Work Health & Safety Queensland Powers

Before you can decide how to manage your rights and responsibilities, you must first understand them.
This section deals with the following:
Criminal Defence Image

Coercive Hearings & Notices

Background

Inspectors with Work Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) have powers that allow them to compel people to provide information and access to documents and other records, which they may seize. They may also compel people to answer their questions.

Equivalent powers exist for investigations commenced under the Electrical Safety Act 2002 (Qld) and the Safety in Recreational Water Activities Act 2011 (Qld) also exist with respect to the power to compel interviews and the production of documents.

A person required to provide documents or answer questions is not excused from doing so on the ground that the answer to the question, or the information or document, may tend to incriminate the person or expose the person to a penalty. However, the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) does state that the answer to a question or information or a document provided by an individual, and other evidence directly or indirectly derived from the answer, information or document, is not admissible as evidence against that individual in civil or criminal proceedings other than proceedings arising out of the false or misleading nature of the answer, information or document.

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) recognises the legitimate interest a person may have in seeking legal advice when subject to an investigation by WHSQ. If there has been a workplace injury or some other issue requiring an urgent incident response, contact Anderson Legal for expert advice and representation.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

Law enforcement agencies such as WHSQ have significant powers to compel information and evidence from individuals and corporate entities. In some instances, secrecy provisions prevent people from disclosing that they have been subject to a coercive hearing or coercive notice to produce information, except in limited circumstances such as to get advice from a lawyer.

Getting advice from an experienced lawyer can be crucial to understanding your rights and obligations. Non-compliance with valid orders to cooperate with WHSQ may render a person liable to significant penalties.


Requirement for Interview

WHSQ may issue a person with a requirement to attend a compulsory interview pursuant to section 171(1)(c) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld). That section relevantly states:

171 Power to require production of documents and answers to questions

(1) If an inspector enters a workplace under this division, or has within the last 30 days entered a workplace under this division, the inspector or another inspector may—

(a) …

(b) …

(c) require a person at the workplace to attend before the inspector at a stated reasonable time and place to answer questions put by the inspector.

While steps can be taken to protect the legal rights and interests of someone called to a compulsory interview, there are significant responsibilities placed on a person served with a requirement to attend, including with respect to answering questions even if they may tend to self-incriminate the person.

A person required to answer questions is not excused from doing so on the ground that the answer to the question, or the information or document, may tend to incriminate the person or expose the person to a penalty. However, the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) does state that the answer to a question provided by an individual, and other evidence directly or indirectly derived from the answer, is not admissible as evidence against that individual in civil or criminal proceedings other than proceedings arising out of the false or misleading nature of the answer, information or document.


Requirement to Produce Documents

A person or corporate entity may be served with a notice to produce documents that essentially requires them to provide information or things in their possession. WHSQ may issue a requirement to produce or give access documents pursuant to section 171(1) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld). That section relevantly states:

171 Power to require production of documents and answers to questions

(1) If an inspector enters a workplace under this division, or has within the last 30 days entered a workplace under this division, the inspector or another inspector may—

(a) require a person to tell the inspector who has custody of, or access to, a document; or

(b) require a person who has custody of, or access to, a document mentioned in paragraph (a) to give the document to the inspector; or

In practice, requirements to produce documents are set out in Form 31. It is an offence to not provide the requested documents without reasonable excuse.

A person required to answer provide documents is not excused from doing so on the ground that the information or document produced may tend to incriminate the person or expose the person to a penalty. However, the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) does state that the answer to a question provided by an individual, and other evidence directly or indirectly derived from the answer, is not admissible as evidence against that individual in civil or criminal proceedings other than proceedings arising out of the false or misleading nature of the answer, information or document.

Obtaining legal advice can be critical to understanding how, even when you may be compelled or coerced to produce a document or other evidence, to take steps to protect your legal rights and interests as far as possible.


Anderson Legal is frequently engaged to assist people caught up in investigations by law enforcement agencies, including WHSQ. If you are dealing with an investigation, requirement to attend or produce documents by WHSQ and need advice and representation, Anderson Legal offers comprehensive advice with respect to work health and safety compliance issues. This includes:

  • providing advice relating to notices or documents served on our clients;
  • advising clients on their legal options, including challenging compulsory notices;
  • communicating on behalf of its clients with WHSQ investigators and lawyers;
  • reviewing information possibly subject to a notice to produce to ensure compliance;
  • negotiating protections and accommodations for clients facing interview by WHSQ; and,
  • representing clients in hearings relating to investigations undertaken by WHSQ.

This firm places an emphasis on providing clear guidance so that our clients are placed in a real position to make informed decisions about their options and their preferred path forward. Anderson Legal provides clear, transparent disclosure of its legal costs at every stage.

  • Andrew Anderson, Legal Director, is an award-winning lawyer who has been independently described by the Courier Mail as “one of the best legal minds” and a “leading corporate and white-collar crime lawyer” (16 December 2021).
  • Having successfully represented litigants in the High Court of Australia, Queensland Court of Appeal, Royal Commissions, and multiple other courts dealing with trials and other hearings, Andrew Anderson has a demonstrated record of success in complex and difficult cases.
  • Prior to operating a law firm, Andrew Anderson worked as a Principal Crown Prosecutor in Queensland and barrister in private practice at 8 Petrie Terrace Chambers in Brisbane. His depth of courtroom advocacy experience ranges from straightforward cases right through to complex homicide trials and appeals.
  • Anderson Legal is a law firm that is dedicated to the best ideals of the legal profession. Seeking to exceed client expectations and fighting for justice is an everyday pursuit.

Limitations on general information

Each legal issue is unique. The information on this page and website cannot – and is not meant to – substitute legal consultation. It is designed to outline information of a general nature if you want to learn more about compulsory interviews and requirements to produce by WHSQ. Anybody dealing with a WHSQ investigation ought to obtain expert legal advice and guidance as soon as possible.

No content accessible on the website is created to provide specific legal answers or advice. It is designed to provide general information about legal matters and related concepts. It should not be used as, or in substitute of, your own legal advice or other advice as appropriate.

To the extent allowed by law, no warranty, condition, or guarantee is provided in relation to the accuracy or reliability of any information contained on this site. Content may be changed from time to time without notice.

If you face a compelled interview or notice to produce from WHSQ, contact Anderson Legal. This firm provides expert advice and representation for people needing assistance to defend themselves against unjust accusations.

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