Steve Bell



Partner – Employment, Industrial Relations & Safety, Melbourne


Current practice

Steve is a Partner at Herbert Smith Freehills. He is the Practice Leader, Work Health and Safety, in the Employment, Industrial Relations & Safety group, Melbourne. He is an expert in health and safety issues and workplace injury related litigation. Steve is consistently recognised by Best Lawyers as one of the leading WHS lawyers in Australia, and he has a particular focus and passion on prosecution matters. He has also recently been recognised by Doyle’s Legal Guide as being a ‘Preeminent’ WHS practitioner, and is one of only 7 WHS lawyers recognised by Chambers and Partners in Australia.

His practice involves assisting clients to proactively manage risk in the workplace, and to ensure legal protection in the event of an incident, regulatory investigation or in relation to civil claims from workers injured at work, or who allege breaches of duties of care.

Steve works closely with clients from a range of industries, including natural resources, construction, transport, agricultural, manufacturing and financial industries, as well as Government departments and enterprises.

Clients across this spectrum of industries include, Cricket Australia, the Victorian Government, Ford Motor Company of Australia, Australia Post, Melbourne Airport, Coles, G4S, Jemena, Leighton Holdings, OneSteel, Orica and Toll.



Steve’s work health and safety practice can be divided into three main areas:

  • Litigation management: This can involve assisting clients in responding to criminal charges arising from alleged breaches of health and safety laws in the Magistrates’, County, Coroners’ or other Courts; and civil litigation arising from injuries to workers, alleged breaches of duties to ensure a safe workplace and a breach of the employer’s duty of care.
  • ‘Proactive’ assistance: Steve assists businesses or government authorities in fully understanding the extent of the duty of care owed to their employees and other workers. Given the increasing complexity to the overlapping and concurrent nature of legal regimes, explaining these legal issues in clear and commercial terms is one of Steve’s key strengths.
  • ‘Reactive’ assistance: This includes providing immediate, and on-the-ground, legal assistance and protection in the event of an incident, claim or regulatory investigation.



Steve regularly conducts client training including Board and Executive presentations and industry groups forums, including developing tools and processes for OHS incident management.


Professional background

  • Steve obtained his law degree from the University of Melbourne with honours. He also has a Bachelor of Arts, with a major in political science.
  • Steve has been nominated as a Best Lawyer in the field of health and safety over each of the past 6 years.