Effective from 23 October 2017, Workplace Health and Safety legislation in Queensland has been amended to include a new offence of “industrial manslaughter”. The introduction of this offence has come as a result of numerous high profile industrial deaths, including a fatal accident on a log ride at popular amusement park Dreamworld and the death of two workers at an Eagle Farm construction site.
In summary, a person conducting a business, or a senior officer of a business, may be found guilty of industrial manslaughter if a worker dies, or is injured and later dies, and:-
- the person’s conduct substantially contributed to the death of the worker; and
- they were negligent in causing the death of the worker by their conduct.
If found guilty, the person could be facing up to 20 years imprisonment, and the employer a substantial fine.
Previously, there was generally no threat of imprisonment to any such person if an employee died as a result of workplace injury.
While there is no case law at present to further formulate these laws, it should be inferred that the person’s negligent conduct doesn’t need to be the sole cause of death for them to be guilty of the offence.
Whether you are a business owner or a senior manager of a business, you need to ensure that corners are not cut when it comes to safety in the workplace otherwise you may face the threat of lengthy imprisonment.
If you need advice when it comes to managing your employees or workplace health and safety matters, please contact one of our experienced solicitors.
This post is general information only. It is not a substitute for legal advice from a lawyer. If you have a legal issue, you should always contact your lawyer to obtain advice that is relevant to your circumstances.