George Comino
Lawyer
Tom Goodwin
Lawyer
Natalie Wissa
Senior Associate
Ryan Steele
Lawyer
Rachel Shin
Senior Associate
Louise Yuen
Senior Associate
Lekha Prasad
Lawyer
Elena Martino
Lawyer

Michael Tooma

Partner, Head of ESG

Michael has a strong belief in the power of collaboration to address complex legal challenges. His approach, whether with his team, in partnership with clients, or among colleagues, reflects his commitment to fostering a culture of shared knowledge, empathy and excellence.

Michael is Australia’s leading health and safety lawyer with specialist expertise in regulatory investigations and environment, social and governance (ESG) issues. Michael provides strategic crisis management, proactive resilience and ESG advice to companies and Boards in Australia and globally. He has extensive experience responding to incidents, undertaking investigations, acting in inquiries, and advising on ESG systems, processes, policy, culture and leadership.

Michael proactively advises his clients on safety-related matters particularly work health and safety, anti-terrorism, product safety and security compliance issues including assisting in the development and implementation of compliance systems. He regularly investigates psychosocial incidents and workplace culture and proactively implements mental health and wellbeing programs.

Michael has spoken at United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) conferences including presenting to the General Assembly and being on the taskforce for the development of the Global Manifesto for Industrial Safety. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Health and Safety and, in 2019, Michael was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Australian Institute of Health and Safety for his contribution to safety.

In addition to his extensive legal expertise, Michael is a thought leader on health and safety issues and an author of numerous books on ESG, Due Diligence, Mental Health at Work, Incident Investigations, Dealing with Regulators and the COVID pandemic. His books are frequently prescribed in universities, cited in academic literature and judgements, and are standard references for safety and legal practitioners.

Michael provides training to Boards and corporate leadership teams on safety due diligence, safety leadership, safety performance indicators, contractor management, risk management, mental health and ESG. His pioneering work on rethinking safety as capital, measuring the return on investment of safety and the Due Diligence Index – a new international standard for measuring safety performance, makes him uniquely placed to lead multidisciplinary projects on ESG improvements, reporting and performance measurement.

Michael has lectured at various tertiary institutions including the University of New South Wales, The University of Sydney, and Auckland University.

Prior to joining Hamilton Locke, Michael was a Partner at Clyde & Co, including as Australian Managing Partner from 2017 to 2022.

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Environment, Social and Governance; Regulatory Investigations, Employment Law; Industrial Relations; Discrimination; Work Health and Safety; Risk Resilience; Crisis Management; Product Safety

 

AWARDS
  • Australian Institute of Health and Safety, Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Chambers and Partners, Asia Pacific Guide, Health & Safety, Band 1
  • Asia Pacific Legal 500 Hall of Fame, Labour and Employment: Work Health and Safety, 2023 -2024
  • Best Lawyers (Australia), Occupational Health and Safety Law, 2007 to 2023

 

QUALIFICATIONS
  • Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) – Macquarie University
  • Master of Laws – University of New South Wales
  • Admitted to practice in New South Wales, the High Court of Australia and New Zealand

 

SELECTED REPRESENTATIONS
  • Acting for Honda Australia in relation to a coronial inquiry in the Coroners Court of New South Wales arising from the Takata Airbag recall.
  • Review of the safety management system of a major airlines in Australia and New Zealand
  • Acting on numerous fatalities in the electricity transmission sector in Australia.
  • Acting on numerous derailments in Australia for a major freight rail operator.
  • Acting on numerous truck fatalities in Australia for a major transport and logistics company.
  • Acting for Built in the landmark case of Attorney General of New South Wales v Built NSW [2013] NSWCCA 299 and in the first instance case which found that the charges commenced by the WorkCover Authority of New South Wales were defective because they were not commenced by a person authorised under the Act to commence proceedings. The case resulted in retrospective legislation to cure the majority of the then existing proceedings which had all been commenced in the same manner.
  • Acting for Growthbuilt in Growthbuilt v SafeWork NSW [2018] NSWIRComm 1002 in successfully appealing a prohibition notice. The case was the first external review of a prohibition notice and the leading authority on the approach to prohibition notices. Michael appeared in that case.
  • Undertaking a global safety benchmarking review for a global mining company where its approach to a number of selected areas was compared to 10 global peers to identify best practice learnings that could form the blueprint for its improvements in its 5 year sustainability plan.
  • Advising various Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) on product safety issues, safety alerts and recalls for surface and underground mining equipment, construction equipment and electrical equipment.
  • Providing Due Diligence training to private and public sector Boards and executive teams across industries including numerous ASX listed Boards.