30 October 2017

Employment law update: Industrial manslaughter laws introduced

Following two major tragedies in 2016 that resulted in the death of four patrons at the Dreamworld theme park and the death of two workers at the Eagle Farm racecourse, the Queensland Government has enacted new industrial manslaughter legislation aimed at reducing deaths in the workplace.

The changes make it a criminal offence where:

  1. a worker dies, or is injured and subsequently passes away; and
  2. either a person conducting a business or undertaking or a senior officer (any person who is concerned with or takes part in a corporations management) causes the death or was negligent about causing the death of the worker by their conduct.

In determining whether or not a person has been negligent about causing the death of a worker, the enquiry will focus on whether the standard of conduct of the person concerned departs from the standard of care expected in order to prevent death, and whether that same conduct is connected to the death.

A person conducting a business or undertaking who is convicted of the above offence faces a fine up to $10 million dollars, whilst a senior officer faces an imprisonment sentence of up to 20 years.

The new laws currently do not apply to the mining sector.

Given that the new laws have come into effect from 23 October 2017, it is timely for employers to revisit their obligations under Work Health and Safety legislation and review their policies and training to ensure that staff are aware of these obligations.

For further information on Work Health and Safety contact our office today on 07 4036 9700.

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