Australia’s first conviction for industrial manslaughter was recently recorded in Queensland. The company and two of its Directors were convicted of negligently causing the death of a worker, who was hit by a forklift. The company was fined $3 million and the Directors were sentenced to 10 months jail (suspended for 20 months).
From 1 July in Victoria, workplace manslaughter will be a jailable offence. ACT and NT already have similar legislation in place. In NSW, workplace manslaughter will now be prosecuted under the Crimes Act.
The Victorian Bill provides that a person (including an officer) must not engage in conduct that is negligent, involves a breach of an occupational health and safety duty and causes the death of a person. 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
Maximum penalties for workplace manslaughter in Victoria are significant - with fines up to $16.5 million for a body corporate and imprisonment for 20 years for an individual.
What should my business be doing to prepare for manslaughter laws?
· Review and update (as necessary) your organisation’s work health and safety policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the applicable safety legislation;
· Undertake a safety audit of your workplace practices, controls and systems to identify any potential hazards or risks to safety;
· Conduct a formal review of all safety systems and controls currently in place and ensure they are fully effective;
· Conduct training sessions and provide information to workers, managers and officers on a regular basis (and especially where there have been operational changes) to ensure everyone is aware of their safety obligations and to update management on any new laws;
· Ensure that all new workers undergo a proper induction concerning any relevant safety matters;
· Prepare, collate and keep up to date records on work health and safety matters and incidents and review those records to identify any trends and areas of risk;
· Review workplace health and safety leadership and culture to ensure any alleged negligent conduct is not permitted or condoned by the company or its culture;
· Review the insurance arrangements for the company and its officers and ensure there is appropriate coverage; and
· Take proactive steps to identify, assess and eliminate (or at the least minimise) risks and hazards to the health and safety of workers and other persons in the workplace.
The industrial manslaughter legislation underlines the critical need for all organizations to have robust workplace health and safety systems in place. A key part of which is a vigorous Drug and Alcohol policy.
DASA and its team of experts can assist in developing, communicating and implementing an effective Drug and Alcohol policy.
For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org