Negligent employers face up to $16.5 million in fines, 20 years' jail
Industrial manslaughter is now a criminal offence in Victoria under new laws passed by the state’s parliament.
The offence will fall under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) and will apply to employers, self-employed people and ‘officers’ of a company or organisation.
Employers found to have negligently caused a workplace death will face fines of up to $16.5 million and individuals will face up to 20 years in jail.
Industrial manslaughter also applies to non-employee fatalities at workplaces.
The new laws have been backed by workplace safety minister Jill Hennessy.
“We promised we’d make workplace manslaughter a criminal offence and that’s exactly what we’ve done – because there is nothing more important than every worker coming home safe every day,” Hennessy says.
“I can’t begin to imagine the pain felt by the families who have lost a loved one at work. I don’t want any families to suffer that type of trauma.
“We’re standing up for working people – and better protecting those touched by tragedy – because workers deserve a safe environment when they go to work each and every day.”
The move accompanies a $10 million expansion to WorkSafe Victoria’s investigation and enforcement capacity, with a specialist team established to lead workplace manslaughter investigations and prosecutions.
The package also includes protocols between WorkSafe and Victoria Police that require families to be notified as soon as possible after a workplace death or a serious injury, including truck drivers killed on the road in the workplace death toll.
The Victorian government notes 20 people have died in workplace incidents so far in 2019.