Industrial manslaughter, a disregard of safe work practices resulting in the death of a worker, is now an offence in the ACT, and breaches can cost millions of dollars in fines or jail time.
This morning the ACT Legislative Assembly passed legislation to establish industrial manslaughter as an offence under the ACT Work Health and Safety Act.
According to Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Mick Gentleman, a breach of the new law can lead to imprisonment of up to 20 years for individuals, and up to $16.5 million in fines for corporations that cause the death of a worker through the continuous breach of work safety obligations.
Mr Gentleman said these penalties reflected the extreme seriousness of the crime.
In 2020, 182 Australians were killed at work. Two of these workplace deaths occurred in the ACT. To date in 2021, there have been 60 workplace deaths in Australia.
“Everyone has the right to return home safely, and employers have an important role to play in this,” Mr Gentleman said.
“Workplace safety is a right that must be protected at all costs.
“These laws will provide more avenues to address poor workplace safety practices and systemic non-compliance.
“We are delivering on the government’s commitment to strengthen workplace safety across the ACT and standing up for the rights of workers,” he said.
ACT Work Health and Safety Commissioner, Jacqueline Agius, said she was pleased to see the ACT take this important step in making industrial manslaughter an offence.
WorkSafe ACT has recruited a dedicated Family Liaison Officer to assist and support the family of a deceased worker through the investigation and prosecution processes, as well as connecting families to relevant support services to help them through a difficult time.
“Each workplace fatality is a heart-breaking and preventable loss of life that sends shockwaves through our community,” Ms Agius.
“It is utterly devastating for the friends and family of that person. WorkSafe ACT’s Family Liaison Officer will ensure these families have access to important procedural information.”