Australia is currently seeing a big shift in work health and safety policies with the introduction of the industrial manslaughter legislation, the Work Health and Safety Bill.
Industrial manslaughter refers to an offence when the action – or lack of action – of an employer leads to the death or fatal injury of an employee. In high-risk work, dangers are often unavoidable but with the proper use of safety equipment and the implementation of effective safety protocols, risks and hazards can be reduced considerably.
Statistics from Laws on Legal show that between 2017 and March 2020, there have been 538 deaths in the workplace. As stated by both Premier Mark McGowan and Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston, the bill was put in place to prevent these workplace deaths that we are currently seeing and to update the workplace safety laws to protect workers.
Currently, the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, the Northern Territory and New South Wales are the only jurisdictions to have this law in effect, but all other states have made progressions towards making their provisions. The Western Australian Government has passed the industrial manslaughter bill through the lower house with the likelihood of it becoming law later this year. The introduction of the new legislation into WA will see several changes in workplace safety, regarding industrial manslaughter, as well as, workplace health and wellbeing – both physical and psychological health.
The proposed legislation includes two offences of industrial manslaughter – Crime and Single Offence – which can be distinguished as follows:
Industrial Manslaughter – Crime
This offence occurs when a health and safety employee engages in negligent conduct that causes a death in the workplace. It must be proved that the OHS employee was aware that their conduct could cause death but chose to disregard that likelihood
Industrial Manslaughter – Simple Offence
This offence occurs when an employee fails to comply with a health and safety procedure causing a workplace death. It doesn’t need to be proved that the employee was aware that their inaction or action would more than likely result in death
|Maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment||Maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment|
|A $5 million fine for an individual||A $2.5 million fine for an individual|
|A $10 million fine for a corporate body||A $5 million fine for a corporate body|
10 Measures you can Take to Keep Your Workers Safe
With the introduction of this new legislation into Western Australia fast approaching, now is the time to ensure your company is protected against the legal requirements of the law.
Here is a list of ten measures that can be taken to protect your workers and your company:
- Review all the potential risks in your organisation and adopt a Risk Management Framework to help you manage the risks your employees may face
- It’s important to ensure your health and safety processes are current and in line with the changing environment. Possible negligent practices should be examined and eliminated
- Ensure all employees are aware of the new legislation and how it can personally impact them, as well as how it affects the company
- Consistently review incident action plans, processes and documentation
- Periodically supply training to employees on safe practices in the workplace and ensure they always remain competent in their roles
- Look for innovative ways to complete high-risk activities that promote safety and efficiency in the workplace
- Track evidence of employees’ knowledge of the risks that are posed in your workplace and the correct control measures to use in order to keep themselves and others safe
- Maintain all records so your company is covered in the case of a dispute
- There should be established risk groups who oversee the daily operations and ensure appropriate systems are in place
- Open communication within your company is a must. All employees have the right and obligation to know everything that is going on
Does this seem like too much effort?
Let us help!
INX Software has experience in helping companies create safer, smarter and more sustainable workplaces. With the introduction of our products into your organisation, your risks can be identified, defined, managed and actioned to protect yourself against the new legislation being introduced.
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Beech, N., 2020. King and Wood Mallesons. Industrial Manslaughter.
Butt, J., 2019. My Osh. WA Bosses Face 20 Years Jail under Industrial Manslaughter laws.
Jackson, S., Armstrong, M., & Gray, S., 2020. Safety Solutions. 2020 Update: Industrial Manslaughter.
Lawson, R., 2020. Lawson Legal. Industrial Manslaughter Laws in Western Australia.
Morgan, M., & Baldwin, M., 2019. Kott Gunning Lawyers. Work Health and Safety Bill 2019: Introduced into WA Parliament.
Parliament of Western Australia, 2020. Work Health and Safety Bill 2019.