Write to the Attorney-General on new Workplace Manslaughter Laws

Key elements of proposed laws

The Victorian Government is introducing new industrial manslaughter laws, as part of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act), imposing fines of around $16 million and up to 20 years imprisonment for employers responsible for negligently causing death.

Key elements of the proposed laws are:

  • The new offence would apply to a person other than an employee who holds duties under Part 3 of the OHS Act and their officers. The offence would not apply to volunteers.
  • The offence is broad and will apply to the death of anyone who is owed a duty under Part 3 of the OHS Act. This includes employees, contractors and members of the public (such as bystanders).
  • A maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment would apply to individuals (this is the same maximum penalty as manslaughter) and a maximum fine of 100,000 penalty units (around $16 million) would apply to companies.
  • The offence also allows for direct liability of an organisation, without pinpointing individual fault.
  • The organisation’s negligence may arise in different ways such as the accumulation of conduct by different individuals, or based on the unwritten rules, policies, or work practices of the organisation.
  • Conduct is ‘negligent’ if it involves a great falling short of the standard of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances and involves a high risk of death or serious injury. It is a test that looks at 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 may 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 compliance, consistent with the organisation’s responsibilities and duties under the OHS Act.

My details

Letter to Attorney- General, The Hon Jill Hennessy

I agree to the letter below being sent to the Attorney-General on my behalf? *
The Hon Jill Hennessy MP
Attorney General
121 Exhibition Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Attorney-General@justice.vic.gov.au 
 
Dear Ms Hennessy,
 
I operate a business in Victoria and am concerned about new workplace manslaughter laws.
 
I am committed to workplace safety in my business and consider that any workplace death is one too many. 
 
However, the proposed laws will impose very significant penalties on business and it is vital that the Government gets them right. 

The new laws need to have workplace safety as their primary focus and be workable, fair and avoid unintended negative outcomes.

I support the Victorian Chamber's advocacy on this matter and urge you consult widely with business to ensure that these laws will improve workplace safety, business and jobs. 

Regards,

 
 
 

Contact the Attorney- General, The Hon Jill Hennessy directly

Alternatively, you can write to the Attorney-General directly on Attorney-General@justice.vic.gov.au

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