Industrial Manslaughter

Industrial Manslaughter

Industrial manslaughter – It is an offence

Industrial manslaughter is the offence of recklessly or negligently failing to ensure the safety of workers or others impacted by the business or undertaking, leading to the death of the worker or other person.

As the number of workplace fatalities increases, employers have an increasing need to be aware of the offence of industrial manslaughter and how this is being enacted across Australia.

The Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill 2023 was introduced to Parliament on 4 September 2023, proposing sweeping changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 and the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act). One of the key WHS Act amendments was intended to criminalise industrial manslaughter at a federal level.

The maximum penalty across the states and territories ranges from imprisonment for 20 years, life imprisonment, for a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) (individual) and for a PCBU (corporate) the fines range from $10-19.231 million.

Industrial Manslaughter

From 1 July 2024, industrial manslaughter will be an offence under a new section 30A of the WHS Act but will only apply to the Commonwealth public sector at this time. Across the country, currently industrial manslaughter is managed in line with state and territory work health and safety legislation.

Australian Capital Territory

Industrial manslaughter has been an offence in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) since 2004, under section 34A of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (ACT). There has since been no prosecutions in the ACT.

New South Wales

Although not currently an offence in New South Wales, the New South Wales Government has announced a commitment to enacting an Industrial manslaughter offence and plans to introduce, a bill to parliament in the first half of this year.

Northern Territory

The offence of industrial manslaughter came into effect in the Northern Territory on 1 February 2020 under section 34B of the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 (NT). NT WorkSafe has since charged two PCBUs with industrial manslaughter.

Queensland

Queensland introduced the offence in 2017 under section 34C of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld). Queensland was the first state to record a conviction including two directors of a company, and an individual who was held responsible for the employees, death. The sentencing included imprisonment.

South Australia

South Australian Parliament passed the Work Health and Safety (Industrial Manslaughter) Amendment Bill 2023 (SA) introducing a new offence of industrial manslaughter under section 30A of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA), receiving royal assent with effect 7 December 2023. The offence is set to come into effect later this year on a date yet to be proclaimed.

Tasmania

Industrial manslaughter is not an offence in Tasmania. While the Tasmanian Government has been the subject of mounting pressure to introduce an industrial manslaughter offence, it has not publicly committed to legislating for such an offence.

Victoria

Workplace manslaughter is an offence in Victoria pursuant to section 39G of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic). This offence was introduced under the Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter and Other Matters) Bill 2019 (Vic), which commenced on 1 July 2020. Since that date WorkSafe Victoria have charged 4 companies.

Western Australia

Industrial manslaughter became an offence in Western Australia on 31 March 2022 under section 30A of the Work Health and Safety Act 2020 (WA). There are yet to be any charges or prosecution of industrial manslaughter in Western Australia.

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Information in HR Advice Online guides and blog posts is meant purely for educational discussion of human resources issues. It contains only general information about human resources matters and due to factors, such as government legislation changes, may not be up to date at the time of reading. It is not legal advice and should not be treated as such.

Information in HR Advice Online guides and blog posts are meant purely for educational discussion of human resources issues. It contains general information about human resources matters and due to factors, such as Government legislation changes, may not be up to date at the time of reading. It is not legal advice and should not be treated as such.

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