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Safety compliance laws in Victoria to commence in 2020

Bosses that are negligent with their safety compliance could be jailed in Victoria under new legislation that takes effect on July 1.

The Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter and other matters) Bill 2019 was passed by the Victorian State Government last year, carrying 20-year jail terms for company officers that cause a work-related death through negligence.

It follows the lead of Queensland which introduced industrial manslaughter laws in 2017 that also carries 20-year jail terms for individuals as well as $10 million fines for companies.

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said at the time the legislation was designed to send a “strong message to all employers”.

“These new laws will hold all employers – regardless of their size or structure – accountable for negligence contributing to a worker’s death,” she said.

Victorian Workplace Safety Minister Jill Hennessy said that the legislation covered direct negligent conduct as well as “unwritten rules, policies, work practices or conduct (that) fail to create a culture of compliance”.

Queensland to extend industrial manslaughter legislation to include the mining industry

 

When Queensland introduced industrial manslaughter laws in 2017, there was a push for changes to be made to the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999 and the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Regulation 2017 as well.

But there was not enough support for these changes to apply to the resources sector back then.

That is set to change with twin independent reviews to commence in 2020 into mining safety in Queensland. Acting mines minister Mark Ryan said it was likely those reviews would lead to industrial manslaughter charges extending to the Queensland resources sector.

“We will introduce legislation this year to make industrial manslaughter an offence, as it is in other Queensland workplaces, and we have legislation before the Parliament to establish an independent resources health and safety authority,” he said.

 

Could other states change their safety compliance legislation to include industrial manslaughter?

 

In New South Wales, it is unlikely we are going to see any changes made under the current Gladys Berejiklian government.

But Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said that legislation focusing on “risky work practices” would be introduced in early 2020 instead.

The Western Australia government announced plans to roll out industrial manslaughter legislation in August last year.

The Northern Territory also introduced industrial manslaughter legislation in late 2019 while the ACT first made industrial negligence an offence in 2003.

Support for industrial manslaughter legislation has not attracted support in South Australia, but that could change as more states and territories adopt new safety compliance laws.



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