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Workplace Manslaughter becomes law in Victoria on July 1st 2020

Workplace Manslaughter becomes law in Victoria on July 1st 2020

Victoria has made Workplace Manslaughter a criminal offence and will now have the highest safety fine in the country with maximum penalties of $16.5m and 20 years jail.

Victoria is the third state after ACT and Queensland to legislate to make Workplace Manslaughter a criminal offence. The new laws will commence on 1 July 2020, but those found negligent before the legislation commences may still be prosecuted if an organisation’s work policies caused a workplace fatality before the commencement date.

When will Workplace Manslaughter apply in Victoria?

Workplace Manslaughter applies when all of the elements of the offence are proven:

  • the accused is a body corporate or a person who is not an employee or volunteer
  • the accused owed the victim a duty of care pursuant to sections 21 to 24 or sections 26 to 31 of the OHS Act (this includes duties owed to employees, contractors and members of the public) (applicable duties)
  • the accused breached that duty by criminal negligence in circumstances where there was a high risk of death, serious injury or serious illness
  • the act that breached the duty of care was committed consciously and voluntarily
  • the accused’s breach of the duty causes the victim’s death.

Workplace Manslaughter may apply even when the death of the person occurs sometime after the relevant incident. For example, depending on the circumstances, if an employee develops an asbestos-related disease after an employer exposed them to asbestos without the use of adequate personal protective equipment.

Who can be charged with Workplace Manslaughter?

A person, a body corporate, an unincorporated body or association or a partnership, including government entities and officers of these entities (but not employees or volunteers), who owe applicable duties to ensure the health and safety of another person in the workplace, can be charged with Workplace Manslaughter.

However, in certain circumstances, officers of organisations may be charged if their organisation owes applicable duties:

  • directors and secretaries of companies
  • partners of a partnership or joint venture
  • the trustee of a trust
  • persons who participate in the making of decisions that affect a substantial part of the organisations business
  • persons who have the capacity to affect significantly the organisations financial standing.

Negligent conduct

Voluntary and deliberate conduct is ‘negligent’ if it involves a great falling short of the standard of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances and involves a high risk of death, serious injury or serious illness. It is a test that looks at what a reasonable person in the situation of the accused would have done in the circumstances. The test is based on existing common law principles in Victoria.

Negligent conduct can include a failure to act.

Examples of negligent conduct may include when a person:

  • does not adequately manage, control or supervise its employees
  • does not take reasonable action to fix a dangerous situation, in circumstances where failing to do so causes a high risk of death, serious injury or serious illness.

Causation: the conduct caused death

It must be established that it was the accused’s negligently criminal breach of the duty of care that caused the death. That is, his or her acts or omissions must have contributed significantly to the death, or been a substantial and operative cause of it. The acts or omissions must be such that an ordinary person would hold them, as a matter of common sense, to be a cause of the death. This is the existing common law test of causation.

Penalties

If convicted of Workplace Manslaughter, the following maximum penalties apply:

  • A maximum of 20 years imprisonment for individuals
  • A maximum fine of $16.5 million for body corporates

Note – negligent conduct before the legislation commences may still be relevant for the purposes of prosecution if an organisation’s omission to amend unsafe work policies causes a workplace fatality post-commencement.

SOURCE: https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/victorias-new-workplace-manslaughter-offences

Ready to train your people in risk management, hazard identification and subcontractor management?

We have a range of programs to train your people in risk management, hazard identification  and subcontractor management which can be tailored specifically to your industry and organisational needs. Training can be delivered as individual modules or as part of one of our accredited programs.

You can see our full program suite here >> or see some relevant units below:

Risk Assessment & Hazard Identification

This program helps you identify and describe the difference between a hazard and a risk, and introduces a way of thinking about hazard identification and risk management as an everyday activity. 

It will also enhance the skills and capabilities of leaders in the areas of hazard identification, risk analysis and identification and how to implement appropriate risk controls.

Download the course outline>>

Subcontractor Management

Learn to effectively manage WHS site risks and performance by learning how to effectively select, manage and monitor the complex and difficult world of subcontractors.  It also covers the WHS obligations regarding subcontractors, stepping through the various stages of effective subcontractor management, including assessing, evaluating safety history, attitude and managing expectations of performance and reporting.

See our 1-day program >>

BSB41415 Certificate IV in WHS

The BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety is a nationally accredited program which will teach you how to identify hazards in the workplace, assist with responding to incidents, assess and control risk and consult on work health and safety issues. This program is most suited to those in a Safety Officer or Health and Safety Representatives role, or those currently in leadership roles wishing to shift their career into Health and Safety.

Read more about this program >>

Want to find out more about how we can customise our programs to your industry and organisation?
Let's talk!
Call us on 1300 453 555, email info@safetydimensions.com.au or use our contact form here.

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WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

Kevin Walker recently undertook the  BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety, a nationally recognised qualification which trained him to identify hazards in the workplace, assist with responding to incidents, assess and control risk, and consult on work...

read more

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

Kevin Walker recently undertook the  BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety, a nationally recognised qualification which trained him to identify hazards in the workplace, assist with responding to incidents, assess and control risk, and consult on work health and safety issues.

As a worker in the QLD building and construction industry, he was eligible for a Construction Skills Queensland subsided place to undertake the program. We asked Kevin about his experience of doing the program, what he learnt and how his workplace will benefit from his new WHS skills.

Kevin, tell us a bit about yourself and the kind of work you do?

I work as a blocklayer/bricklayer but also have experience working in mining. I finished school at Year 10 and went from school straight into a construction apprenticeship. Training in those days included TAFE. They tried to teach us the safe way to do things, but when I got onto a worksite we were just expected to get the job done – regardless of whether the job site or work methods were safe or not. I remember in the late 1980s laying bricks while standing on top of a 44-gallon drum!

When I worked in the mines, they were very safety focused – it’s a very high-risk environment so there is a lot more training and attention on risk management and hazard reduction. This safety focus really rubbed off on me and I took that thinking into my next construction job. Even though the attitude of the construction industry hadn’t changed, mine definitely had.

 

Why did you choose to do the course?

I was very interested in furthering my education in safety and getting a formal qualification. I saw the Workplace Dimensions advert on Facebook for Construction Skills Queensland subsidised training and it was exactly what I was looking for.

I’d seen WHS programs advertised before, they were expensive; plus I’d also have to take a whole week off work unpaid, which would make it even more difficult. The program subsidy from Construction Skills Queensland made the difference – it’s made doing my Cert IV in WHS possible and now everyone on-site benefits from the knowledge and skills I have.

Find out more about CSQ subsidised training >>

 

What did you get out of the course?

I saw safety in a different light and I enjoyed it immensely. Previously I couldn’t really explain safety to people as effectively as I wanted to. I knew the WHS Act was a legal requirement everyone is bound by, but now I have the language and tools to break down the concepts and explain it to others on site.

I’ve now got the skills to have powerful conversations that engage people to think for themselves about what they’re doing, how they do it and to come up with solutions that make the work and environment safer. Knowing what’s safe and legally compliant is one thing, but being able to get your whole crew on board with you is a different skill. I know the course has really helped me with that and to become a safety leader.

My boss and our Estimator at work both have the WHS qualification, so we have someone at every level with the knowledge to cover our legal obligations, and most importantly send our crew home in one piece every night. I had Kevin Obermuller as the trainer and he explained everything until we all understood the concepts and used his life experiences in many industries to tell great stories to make the information hit home.

It’s amazing that spending even 5 minutes looking closely at risks can make a huge impact.

 

What has been the impact of you doing the course?

I have stopped work recently because of an unsafe site, even though the client pushed for us to start. In the ‘bad old days’, workers would just give in to the pressure and start the job. I’ve always known it but now I have the legal background knowledge to explain my rights and obligations and take the action needed to not start work until we are satisfied we have identified all risks and managed them.

Now that the crew know I’ve done the qualification, they come to me for advice. We now have the confidence to stop work if any new hazards come up through the day and ensure they’re managed before anyone starts work again. Previously, the boys often wanted to jump in and just start working without having safety measures in place – like wearing dust masks. Now I can’t walk past this.

Now I can explain the legal side and the more and more I talk, the more people get it. The crew now share stories about things that have happened on other sites. Combining our experiences and perspectives makes the safety message come alive.

I’m also implementing pre-inspection walk-throughs of our jobs to check the site risks. This not only ensures the site is safe before we turn up, but is saving the boss money because we don’t have crews standing around at start time because the site isn’t safe for us.

Another thing that came out of the course is that I’m now implementing a sit-down chat with all our new people to go through the SWMS (Safe Work Method Statements). Rather than just handing them the documents, I now go through it with them and have them thoroughly understand what they are signing on to. The SWMS can be long so in the past some people just sign them off without understanding they are actually signing a legal document.

On-site today, we had a contractor truck driver arrive. He’d parked ready to start work. I pulled him up and we looked at the risks – he hadn’t been aware of the powerlines as a potential hazard. Without that conversation, he would not have been ready to start work. He moved his truck out of the danger zone after that conversation and he thanked me for bringing it to his attention when he left. This is the difference this course makes – you just don’t step over anything that can put people at risk.

 

What would you say to others considering doing the course?

This course is like the invention of the wheel – you look back and see how things used to be before you had that knowledge. You do things and operate very differently when you don’t know what you don’t know. Now, with the knowledge of WHS, we are doing jobs completely differently when it comes to safety and the jobs are still getting done to a high standard and on time.

I wish more people were able to do the course and take the opportunity of CSQ funding. Having the subsidy available takes away a big financial barrier to doing the course and I am recommending more of our people get this knowledge. I encourage at least one person from every construction company to do the Cert IV in WHS. Put your hand up for the responsibility – this training makes all the difference. Doing the program has opened my eyes – once you have the knowledge you are never the same.

Workplace Dimensions thanks Kevin for speaking to us and wish him all the best keeping everyone safe!

Do you know we offer the BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety

program in a live, interactive online format?

Gain your qualification in Work Health & Safety in a live online environment, via computer or device

Our BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety program is now available through a facilitator-led, real-time, interactive training environment – via an internet connected computer or device.

This could be the right time to add value to your role while working at home or from the workplace.

This is not a pre-recorded online program – it is the same experience as our face-to-face programs, delivered by our public programs division Workplace Dimensions.

 

FOR ALL INDUSTRIES

 

 

NEXT START DATES: 

Mon 20, Tue 21, Wed 22 & Mon 27, Tues 28 July 2020
OR
Mon 17, Tue 18, Wed 19 & Mon 24, Tues 25 August 2020

More from our blog

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

Kevin Walker recently undertook the  BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety, a nationally recognised qualification which trained him to identify hazards in the workplace, assist with responding to incidents, assess and control risk, and consult on work...

read more

Key WHS statistics Australia

Key WHS statistics Australia

Safe Work Australia compiles the National Dataset for compensation-based statistics which comprises information on workers’ compensation claims provided by each of the jurisdictional workers’ compensation authorities.

Although 563,600 people experienced a work-related injury or illness in 2017-18, the data in the Safe Work Australia report refers only to the 107,335 serious claims where the compensated injury or disease resulted in one week or more off work.

Why does it take so long to finalise the data?  Figures are updated only once all the appropriate authorities have investigated the deaths and more accurate information becomes available. Only then does Safe Work Australia include the incident in their statistics and publish their final report.

 

Key Findings

  • 144 fatalities nationally
  • 75% of workplace fatalities came from Transport, Postal & Warehousing / Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing / Construction & Mining in 2017-18.
  • 107,335 serious claims resulting in one week or more off work
  • $11,300 median compensation paid per claim

Fatalities By State 2017-18Fatalaties By State 2018

 

Number of fatalities, by gender 2017-18.

 

Number of fatalities, by industry 2017-18.

 

Number of fatalities, by occupation 2017-18.

 

Serious claims overall statistics, 2017–18

Serious claims overall statistics, 2017–18

 

Serious claims by nature of injury disease, 2017–18

Serious claims by nature of injury disease, 2017–18p

 

Serious claims by occupation, 2017–18

Serious claims by occupation, 2017–18p

 

Serious claims by industry, 2017–18

Serious claims by industry 2017–18p

Sources: Safe Work Australia https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/


© Commonwealth of Austr​alia.

Australian Bureau of statistics http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6324.0

Learn More About Our Foundational Safety Leadership Program

Focusing on shifting individual attitudes and mindsets regarding how safety is viewed in the workplace, this program also teaches new skills and knowledge to embed behaviour change at an individual and organisational level.

To find out how we can customise this program for your needs call us on 1300 453 555.

Want to learn how to manage subcontractors?

Learn to effectively manage WHS site risks and performance by learning how to effectively select, manage and monitor the complex and difficult world of subcontractors.

Find out more by downloading the course outline below, contact us here or call us on 1300 453 555.

More from our blog

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

Kevin Walker recently undertook the  BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety, a nationally recognised qualification which trained him to identify hazards in the workplace, assist with responding to incidents, assess and control risk, and consult on work...

read more

Why sleep is your superpower

Why sleep is your superpower

Are you and your workers skimping on sleep?

It’s been proven that sleep deprivation not only means poorer performance, productivity and safety outcomes, but has an impact on our physical health.

Researchers found workers losing just 16 minutes of sleep (from the 7-9 hours a night recommended) showed a difference between a clear-headed day at work or one filled with distractions.

At the point of sleep deprivation (less than 6.5 hours a night) the likelihood of a workplace accident increases by 70%.

In this deep dive TED Talk into the science of slumber, Matt Walker shares the good things that happen when you get good sleep — and the alarmingly bad things that happen when you don’t (with some surprising insights for men) on both your brain and body.

This includes sleep’s impact on your learning, memory, immune system and even your genetic code — as well as some helpful tips for getting some shut-eye.

 


Sources

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190423133605.htm
https://www.americansafetycouncil.com/content/osha-10-safety/


Need to get your people focused on all aspects of safety?

Download the Safety Leadership Foundation Program course outline or call us on 1300 453 555.

Learn More About Our Foundational Safety Leadership Program

Focusing on shifting individual attitudes and mindsets regarding how safety is viewed in the workplace, this program also teaches new skills and knowledge to embed behaviour change at an individual and organisational level.

To find out how we can customise this program for your needs call us on 1300 453 555.

Want to transform your organisation's safety culture?

Download Course OutlinesSafety Dimensions offers accredited and non-accredited leadership training for leaders, safety professionals and employees to support organisations to effectively deal with safety performance challenges.

We can train anywhere in Australia and our programs can be customised for your workplace and industry. Download our program guide.

Call 1300 453 555 or email info@safetydimensions.com.au

More from our blog

Subscribe Now! >>

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

Kevin Walker recently undertook the  BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety, a nationally recognised qualification which trained him to identify hazards in the workplace, assist with responding to incidents, assess and control risk, and consult on work...

read more

What Do Van Halen & Brown M&M’s Have To Do With Safety?

What Do Van Halen & Brown M&M’s Have To Do With Safety?

Van Halen’s Brown M&Ms – Their Key To Rock and Roll Safety

There’s a long tradition of musicians and actors adding in absurd demands in their performance contracts just because they could.

Van Halen, the American hair rock band of the 80’s were infamous for this inclusion in their contract, Article 126, “There will be no brown M&M’s in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.”

For years this clause was seen as a frivolous and ego-maniacal expression of the rock and roll lifestyle.

In his book, Crazy From the Heat, original front man David Lee Roth explains that the request was actually a quick safety assessment. With tonnes of stage equipment, high powered electronics, pyrotechnics and large crowds, the humble brown M&M was a warning signal to see if the stagehands had been paying attention to each detail of the written contract to ensure the safety of the band, crew and audience.

Watch the David Lee Roth speaking about the Van Halen Brown M&M clause:

Lee Roth writes:
“Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. We’d pull up with nine eighteen-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors, whether it was the girders couldn’t support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren’t big enough to move the gear through. The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function.

mm1So just as a little test, in the technical aspect of the rider, it would say ‘Article 148: There will be fifteen amperage voltage sockets at twenty-foot spaces, evenly, providing nineteen amperes…’ And article number 126, in the middle of nowhere, was: ‘There will be no brown M&M’s in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.’

So I would walk backstage, if I saw brown M&M’s in that bowl…..well, line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you’re going to arrive at a technical error. They didn’t read the contract. Guaranteed you’d run into a problem. Sometimes it would threaten to just destroy the whole show. Something like, literally, life-threatening”

Dan and Chip Heath’s book, Decisive, How to make better decisions in life and work they summarise that “David Lee Roth was no diva; he was an operations master. In Van Halen’s world, a brown M&M was a tripwire.”

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/clender/7239011350/

Ready to train your people in risk management, hazard identification and subcontractor management?

We have a range of programs to train your people in risk management, hazard identification  and subcontractor management which can be tailored specifically to your industry and organisational needs. Training can be delivered as individual modules or as part of one of our accredited programs.

You can see our full program suite here >> or see some relevant units below:

Risk Assessment & Hazard Identification

This program helps you identify and describe the difference between a hazard and a risk, and introduces a way of thinking about hazard identification and risk management as an everyday activity. 

It will also enhance the skills and capabilities of leaders in the areas of hazard identification, risk analysis and identification and how to implement appropriate risk controls.

Download the course outline>>

Subcontractor Management

Learn to effectively manage WHS site risks and performance by learning how to effectively select, manage and monitor the complex and difficult world of subcontractors.  It also covers the WHS obligations regarding subcontractors, stepping through the various stages of effective subcontractor management, including assessing, evaluating safety history, attitude and managing expectations of performance and reporting.

See our 1-day program >>

BSB41415 Certificate IV in WHS

The BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety is a nationally accredited program which will teach you how to identify hazards in the workplace, assist with responding to incidents, assess and control risk and consult on work health and safety issues. This program is most suited to those in a Safety Officer or Health and Safety Representatives role, or those currently in leadership roles wishing to shift their career into Health and Safety.

Read more about this program >>

Want to find out more about how we can customise our programs to your industry and organisation?
Let's talk!
Call us on 1300 453 555, email info@safetydimensions.com.au or use our contact form here.

More from our blog

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

Kevin Walker recently undertook the  BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety, a nationally recognised qualification which trained him to identify hazards in the workplace, assist with responding to incidents, assess and control risk, and consult on work...

read more