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Industrial Manslaughter Law introduced in Victoria

The Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter and Other Matters) Bill 2019 means that employers found to negligently cause a workplace death, could face fines of up to $16.5 million and individuals up to 20 years’ in jail.

The Bill effectively says there is potential liability where a person fails to have in place a safe system of work, where there is a risk of serious injury and death and they fail to act in the way that a reasonable person would act in those circumstances.

Victorian Attorney-General and workplace safety minister Jill Hennessy says that the legislation introduced today to create a criminal offence of industrial manslaughter could extend to some workplace-linked suicides and to diseases such as silicosis.

An offence which will fall under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 where there is a failure on workplace safety including mental injury that leads to suicide and will apply to employers, self-employed people and “officers” of the employers.  It will also apply when an employer’s negligent conduct causes the death of a member of the public.

Whilst all employers and officers of a business should always take their workplace health and safety responsibilities seriously, it is thought that with the introduction of these laws, an increased focus will occur resulting in safer workplaces and decreased incidents causing death.

As the above relates to the introduction in Victoria, following is the current status of the other states:-

  • QLD - already has industrial manslaughter laws in place
  • ACT - already has industrial manslaughter laws in place
  • NSW – whilst laws have not been passed, workplace fatalities are currently being looked at with the plan to implement stronger laws
  • WA & NT – have either introduced industrial manslaughter laws or are about to do so

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