WORKPLACE MANSLAUGHTER LAWS COMING TO VICTORIA16-07-2019
The Andrews Labor Government made a commitment as part of its 2018 re-election platform to introduce industrial Manslaughter laws into Victoria.
This introduction will form part of the review of the Victorian Occupational Health & Safety Act 2004.
In Victoria up to 30 people are killed and almost 26,000 people are injured at work every year, the push for the introduction of Industrial Manslaughter Laws is an attempt to counter and reduce these figures.
Under the proposed new law, employers will face fines of almost $16 million and individuals responsible for negligently causing death will face up to 20 years jail time.
The proposed offence would apply to a person other than an employee who holds duties under Part 3 of the OHS Act and their officers.
Under the OHS Act, a ‘person’ includes a body corporate, unincorporated body or association or a partnership. The main category of ‘persons’ covered will be ‘employers’ and ‘self-employed persons’.
Officers include directors or secretaries (of corporations), partners (of partnerships), office holders (of unincorporated associations), persons who participate in the making of decisions that affect a substantial part of the organisation’s business, and persons who have the capacity to affect significantly the organisation’s financial standing.
An organisation’s negligence may present in various ways such as;
• The addition of conduct by different individuals, or based on the unwritten rules, policies, or work practices of the organisation.
• Conduct is deemed ‘negligent’ if it involves an excessive falling short of the standard of reasonable care a person would have exercised in the circumstances and involves a high risk of death or serious injury. It is based on an assessment of what a reasonable person would have done in the circumstances.
• For organisations, it would not be necessary to pinpoint negligence by one particular person. A death may occur because of one person’s negligence or because of the acts of a number of people.
• An organisation could be found to be negligent where its unwritten rules, policies, work practices or conduct implicitly authorise non-compliance, or fail to create a culture of OHS regulatory compliance, consistent with the organisation’s responsibilities and duties under the OHS Act.