Rogue operators who stockpile dangerous goods could face up to 10 years in jail after tough new laws passed Victorian Parliament today.
The Dangerous Goods Amendment (Penalty Reform) Bill 2019 ensures those who flout dangerous goods laws get a serious penalty.
The Andrews Labor Government announced earlier this year it would crack down on people who flout dangerous good laws following the discovery of millions of litres of waste chemicals stockpiled in northern suburbs warehouses.
A new offence has now been created that will see prison terms of up to ten years for those that recklessly engage in the manufacture, storage, transport, transfer, sale or use dangerous goods in a way that places, or may place, another person in danger of death.
Body corporates who are found guilty of this offence could face fines of more than $6.4 million.
Existing maximum penalties for endangering health and safety, property or the environment will be increased from four to five years imprisonment, and from $165,000 to $297,000 in fines for individuals.
Maximum fines for body corporates endangering health and safety will increase from $826,000 to $3.3 million.
Penalties will also be increased for failing to comply with the direction of a WorkSafe Inspector, and for several other offences of failing to comply with duties under the Dangerous Goods Act.
The maximum penalty for abandoning, failing to take precautions for equipment and conduct that causes – or is likely to cause an accident – will increase from $82,600 to $297,000 for an individual. For body corporates the maximum penalty will increase from $413,000 to $1.4 Million.
WorkSafe is leading a government agency taskforce to remove waste chemicals from 13 sites in Epping, Campbellfield and Craigieburn.
The clearing of these sites is well underway, with approximately 8.2 million litres of waste chemicals having been removed thus far.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Workplace Safety Jill Hennessy
“The mishandling of dangerous goods is a threat to our community and those who do it are breaking the law.”
“Those who manufacture, store, transport, transfer, sell or use dangerous goods must keep their workers, the community and the environment safe.”
“We’re cracking down on rogue operators who do the wrong thing and these new laws will make them take their responsibilities seriously.”