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Negligent Employers & Senior Executives Can Be Charged With Industrial Manslaughter- New Queensland Laws

In a media statement from the Queensland government, Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace announced new industrial manslaughter laws passed the parliament, leaving negligent employers culpable in workplace deaths with nowhere to hide.

In response to the tragic fatalities at Dreamworld and an Eagle Farm work site in 2016, the Queensland government undertook a Best Practice Review of Workplace Health and Safety in Queensland. The creation of the new offence of industrial manslaughter was one of 58 recommendations contained in the report.  Industrial manslaughter allows the criminal prosecution of owners and employers for workplace deaths.

“Negligent employers culpable in workplace fatalities in Queensland will face severe penalties for the new offence of industrial manslaughter,” said Minister Grace.

“Individuals guilty of industrial manslaughter will face 20 years imprisonment, with corporate offenders liable for fines of up to $10 million. These penalties send out a strong message to all employers that negligence causing death won’t be tolerated under any circumstances.

“Because of increasingly elaborate corporate structures, up until now, it’s been difficult to prosecute some employers for manslaughter.

“But these new laws will hold all employers – regardless of their size or structure – accountable for negligence contributing to a worker’s death.

According to the review, worker representatives and plaintiff lawyers favour the creation of an offence of gross negligence causing death, while industry groups and other legal professional groups favoured retaining the status quo.

To date, the only Australian jurisdiction which had a specific industrial manslaughter type offence was the Australian Capital Territory.

“The legislation passed today is all about ensuring all Queensland workers can return home safely to their loved ones after a day’s work.”

Sources:

Queensland Government Media Release:
http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2017/10/12/new-industrial-manslaughter-laws-to-protect-queenslanders-on-the-job

Best Practice Review Of Workplace Health and Safety:
https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/143521/best-practice-review-of-whsq-final-report.pdf

Safety Dimensions will update this page as more news comes to hand about what this means in practice for the QLD safety community.