22 May 2020 posted by Nadine Neate

The Victorian Government plans to expand the scope of workplace manslaughter penalties in their state, increasing the possible jail terms for criminal negligence from 20 years to 25 years.

If you’re a small-medium Victorian business, Recovery Partners can offer you free advice* to ensure you’re taking all the right steps to keep your employees safe and avoid the risk of penalties like these.

Victoria upgrades maximum jail terms to 25 years

In November 2019, Victoria introduced an Amendment Bill (Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter and Other Matters) Bill 2019) to enshrine the offence of workplace manslaughter (or industrial manslaughter) in law. The Bill allowed for a maximum jail term of 20 years for company officers, employers or self-employed persons who had negligently caused the death of a worker or a member of the public (fines of up to $16.5 million for body corporates were also included).

As of this week, the proposed maximum jail term has been upgraded to 25 years in a move that Attorney-General Jill Hennessy says is designed to provide courts with the ability to impose sentences that reflect a broader range of culpability.

Workplace manslaughter laws come into effect July 1

Victorian workplace manslaughter laws will come into effect from July 1. In Victoria, a person can be found guilty of workplace manslaughter when they:

1. engage in negligent conduct; and
2. that conduct amounts to a breach of an OHS duty owed to an individual; and
3. that conduct results in the death of that individual.

Workplace manslaughter laws may apply even when the death of the individual in question occurs some time after the relevant incident. Situations where a worker develops silicosis or asbestosis may be applicable, as may situations where a workplace-associated psychological injury leads to an individual’s suicide.

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As an employer, it’s now more important than ever that you make sure your safety systems are up to scratch. If you’re a small or medium-sized Victorian business (with up to 60 employees), you may be eligible for free independent advice from a Recovery Partners Safety Consultant.

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Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at www.workcover.nsw.au