The new State of Victoria law incriminates businesses and officers whose negligent conduct leads to incidents of workplace death and they shall be guilty of workplace manslaughter. A partnership concern, corporate entities and associations shall be liable for fines of up to AU$16.5 million, while sole traders and officers shall face 20 years of jail time.
The objective behind this new law is due to an incident that occurred in Queensland, Brisbane where company Auto Recycling Pty Ltd was charged with industrial manslaughter. The incident involved an accident where a worker was killed by a reversing forklift in the yard, due to alleged failure to separate pedestrians and mobile plant.
The State of Victoria, which enforced Industrial Manslaughter Law on November 26th, 2019 has been the source of inspiration for other Australian states as well. The Northern Territory industrial manslaughter law was enacted on November 27th 2019. Following their lead, Queensland announced as well that it would legislate industrial manslaughter offences within the framework of mining specific safety laws and Western Australia recently tabled the Work Health and Safety Bill 2019 that has in its fold industrial manslaughter offences.
Victorian Parliament enacted the Workplace Safety Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter) Bill 2019 and made the employer guilty of workplace manslaughter when the employer:
- is involved in a negligent conduct;
- is in breach of an OHS duty owed to another person;
- causes the death of the employee or any other person;
The Victorian Law lays down that the offence applies to any person deemed to be an officer under the Corporations Act 2001, which includes directors, secretaries and any person who has significant hold on an entity’s business or finances.
The Victorian government in its Statement of Objective and Purpose while introducing the Bill stated that “the purpose of the workplace manslaughter law is to hold liable those with the power and resources to improve safety for the employers”. The objective is so the businesses assure adequate controls and equipment are in effect thereby ensuring improved safety in all industries.
Source: Mondaq News