Victoria’s industrial manslaughter laws will come into effect no later than 1 July 2020 (unless the government proclaims that it will come into effect earlier).
The implications of the amendments are that significant penalties, including imprisonment, will apply to corporations or persons who engage in negligent conduct that breaches OHS obligations causing the death of an employee or member of the public.
Volunteers and employees who are not officers are excluded from the offences’ application.
The new law: workplace manslaughter
The bill amends the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) (OHS Act) by creating two new offences relating to ‘workplace manslaughter’.
A person (including a corporation or their officers) will be guilty of ‘workplace manslaughter’ after the provisions become operational if they:
- engage in negligent conduct; and
- that conduct amounts to a breach of an OHS duty owed to another person; and
- that conduct causes the death of another person.
A breach of the manslaughter offences carry a maximum term of 20 years imprisonment for individuals while a body corporate may be fined more than $16 million.
The introduction of these two new offences in Victoria reflects a trend toward imposing severe penalties upon individuals for breaches of the OHS Act. The amendments are consistent with industrial manslaughter laws that have recently been introduced in the Northern Territory, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory.
If you would like further information in relation to your OHS obligations, or if you require tailored and practical assistance developing and implementing policies and procedures to enhance workplace safety, please contact our Employment, Safety and Migration team.
This article was written by Erin McLeod, Law Graduate, and Barney Adams, Associate and originally published on the Macpherson Kelley website.