The Andrews Labor Government is delivering on an election commitment and making workplace manslaughter a criminal offence, under tough new laws passed by the Parliament, because no person deserves to die at work.
As many as 30 people are killed in workplaces across the state every year, with 20 people having already lost their lives so far in 2019.
Under the new laws, employers who negligently cause a workplace death will face fines of up to $16.5 million and individuals will face up to 20 years in jail.
The offence will fall under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) and will apply to employers, self-employed people and ‘officers’ of the company or organisation.
The new laws will also apply when an employer’s negligent conduct causes the death of a non-employee —ensuring that all Victorians are safe in, and around, our workplaces.
The Labor Government recently announced a $10 million package to boost WorkSafe’s investigation and enforcement capacity, with a specialist team established to lead investigations and prosecutions of workplace manslaughter.
The package also includes clear protocols in place between WorkSafe and Victoria Police that require families to be notified as soon as possible after a workplace death or a serious injury, and including truck drivers killed on the road in the workplace death toll, ensuring these deaths get the focus they deserve.
WorkSafe Victoria will investigate the new offence using their powers under the OHS Act to ensure non-compliant employers can be prosecuted – making clear that putting people’s lives at risk in the workplace will not be tolerated.
Earlier this year, the government announced a Workplace Manslaughter Implementation Taskforce to help develop the tough new laws. Led by Parliamentary Secretary for Workplace Safety Natalie Hutchins, the taskforce included members and representatives from business, unions, industry and victims’ families.
The Taskforce was supported by a Families’ Reference Group, which was made up of a number of families who have been impacted by a workplace death.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Workplace Safety Jill Hennessy
“We promised we’d make workplace manslaughter a criminal offence and that’s exactly what we’ve done – because there is nothing more important than every worker coming home safe every day.”
“I can’t begin to imagine the pain felt by the families who have lost a loved one at work. I don’t want any families to suffer that type of trauma.”
“We’re standing up for working people – and better protecting those touched by tragedy – because workers deserve a safe environment when they go to work each and every day.”