Employers whose negligence leads to the death of an employee will face up to 20 years in jail and fines of almost $16 million under new laws which have been proposed by the current Labor Government if re-elected.
Up to 30 people are killed at work in Victoria every year, and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the penalty must be a strong enough deterrent to make employers take workplace safety seriously, and not rely on deep pockets to avoid accountability while cutting corners on safety.
Premier Andrews said his government would create a new criminal offence of workplace manslaughter in the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 if re-elected.
Under the proposed new law, employers will face fines of almost $16 million and individuals responsible for negligently causing death will be held to account and face up to 20 years in jail.
The offence would also apply when an employer’s negligent conduct causes the death of an innocent member of the public.
WorkSafe Victoria would be responsible for prosecuting employers and will be given the powers and resources necessary for enforcing the new law.
Premier Andrews said his government will would also establish an implementation taskforce, including business and unions, to consult on the detail of the proposed laws.
“It couldn’t be more simple: no one should die at work. These laws will help make sure that every Victorian makes it home to their loved ones,” said Premier Andrews.
“Families who have lost a loved one at work deserve justice – and that means jail, not a slap on the wrist.”
Last year, industrial manslaughter laws were passed by Queensland’s Parliament, and individuals guilty of industrial manslaughter will face 20 years imprisonment, with corporate offenders liable for fines of up to $10 million.
“Negligent employers culpable in workplace fatalities in Queensland will face severe penalties for the offence of industrial manslaughter,” said Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace.
“These penalties send out a strong message to all employers that negligence causing death won’t be tolerated under any circumstances.”
The creation of the new offence was one of 58 recommendations contained in Tim Lyons’s Best Practice Review of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.