The Andrews Labor Government is delivering on its promise to make workplace manslaughter a criminal offence, with work kicking off on the development of the tough new laws.
Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Workplace Safety Jill Hennessy today met families whose loved ones died at work in the Delacombe trench collapse in 2018, and announced a new Implementation Taskforce to consult on the proposed legislation.
Under the proposed new laws, 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 new criminal offence of workplace manslaughter, which will be created in the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, will send a strong message to employers that putting people’s lives at risk in the workplace will not be tolerated.
Up to 30 people are killed on the job in Victoria each year, and already this year there are eight families mourning a loved one who didn’t come home from work.
The new Implementation Taskforce will be led by former Minister for Industrial Relations Natalie Hutchins, and comprises members from unions, business and victims’ families.
It will be supported by a Workplace Fatalities and Serious Incidents Reference Group representing victims’ families to ensure that those who have lost loved ones in workplace accidents can contribute to the reforms. A Legal Advisory Group comprising legal sector stakeholders will also be established to consult on the proposed model for the new offence.
Importantly, the new offence will also apply when an employer’s negligent conduct causes the death of an innocent member of the public – ensuring that all Victorians are safe in, and around, our workplaces.
WorkSafe Victoria will be given the powers and resources needed to ensure employers who do the wrong thing will be prosecuted. The laws will send a strong message that putting lives at risk in the workplace will not be tolerated.
Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews
“No-one should ever die at work. It’s why it’s our sincere hope that that these new laws need never be used – that instead they’ll change our workplaces and change our culture.”
“We promised we’d make workplace manslaughter a criminal offence and we’re not wasting a minute.”
Quote attributable to Minister for Workplace Safety Jill Hennessy
“Every life lost at a Victorian workplace is one too many. These laws will make our workplaces safer, hold employers to account, and most importantly give heartbroken families the justice they deserve.”
Quote attributable to Implementation Taskforce Chair and Member for Sydenham Natalie Hutchins
“The families of people killed at work deserve a voice and will provide vital input in the drafting of these laws.”
Quote attributable to Member for Buninyong Micheala Settle
“Ballarat workers deserve to come home safely to their families every day – these changes will ensure that employers who do the wrong thing will be held accountable for their actions.”
Quote attributable to Member for Wendouree Juliana Addison
“No one should have to lose a loved one at work like Janine and Dave Brownlee and Lana Cormie did. That is why we are boosting the safety for all workers and making workplace manslaughter a criminal offence.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020