Industrial manslaughter has been gradually introduced to safety legislation across various jurisdictions in recent years in response to high profile incidents such as the Dreamworld tragedy. The introduction of this offence in the legislation raises the bar significantly should an offence occur and a PCBU or an officer is found to be negligent and a death of a worker results. Penalties as a result are much more significant, up to $10M for a corporation and 20 years jail for an individual.
The first ever industrial manslaughter prosecution
On the 11th June 2020 the first ever prosecution was handed down in the district Court of Queensland. The two directors of the recycling business were found liable and convicted of reckless conduct and sentenced to 10 months jail, a sentence that has been suspended. The company was sentenced to a record fine of $3 million. Further details of the case can be found here.
What does this mean for you?
If you are in a role where you have the ability to influence the safety of the workplace you could be exposed to industrial manslaughter obligations. Now more than ever you will need to have a good understanding of your legal obligations and need to be able to demonstrate what you are doing to ensure a safe workplace. Our officer’s duties training refers to the guidance from Safework Australia on understanding your officer’s duties. This presents six clear steps to ensure you are meeting your obligations:
- Understand your WHS obligations under the legislation;
- Know the hazards and risks to workers in your business and what is in place to manage them
- Ensure you have provided adequate resources to ensure a safe workplace
- Respond proactively to incidents or hazards as they are raised by workers
- Enforce compliance to the systems in place, and
- Ensure you have evidence to verify what is in place.
As we emerge from the uncertainty of the Covid-19 era, now is the perfect time to think about what you are doing about safety in your business.