25 October 2023 posted by Recovery Partners

Industrial Manslaughter Penalties across Australia vary from state to state and state to territory.

 New South Wales

Safework NSW – Industrial Manslaughter 

It was announced by the NSW Government on Thursday 19th October 2023, that they will introducing an Industrial Manslaughter Offence into the NSW WHS Legislation sometime during first half of 2024.

At this time NSW has not included the offence of industrial manslaughter in its WHS Act (NSW) amendments , noting though that a workplace death may still constitute manslaughter under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

Penalty

Proposed maximum penalty is 25 years’ imprisonment for an individual and $10,295,000 for a company.

Australian Capital Territory

WorkSafe ACT – Industrial Manslaughter

The crime of industrial manslaughter has existed in the ACT since 2004. In August 2021, legislative amendments were introduced to align the crime with other work safety offences. In the ACT, a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) or an officer of a PCBU commits industrial manslaughter if they engage in conduct which breaches a health and safety duty and causes a person’s death. The PCBU or officer must have been reckless or negligent about causing the death.

Penalty

The maximum penalty is 20 years’ imprisonment for an individual and fines of $16.5 million for a company.

Northern Territory

WorkSafe Northern Territory – Industrial Manslaughter 

The offence of industrial manslaughter came into effect in the NT on 1 February 2020. A PCBU or an officer of a PCBU commits industrial manslaughter if they intentionally engage in conduct which breaches a health and safety duty and causes the death of an individual to whom the health and safety duty was owed. The PCBU or officer must also be reckless or negligent about the conduct breaching the health and safety duty and causing the death of that individual.

Penalty

The maximum penalty is imprisonment for life for an individual and fines of $10.2 million for companies.

Queensland

WorkSafe QLD –  Industrial Manslaughter  

The offence of industrial manslaughter came into effect in Queensland on 23 October 2017. It is an offence for a PCBU or senior officer to negligently cause the death of a worker, including where a worker is injured carrying out work and later dies.

Penalty

The maximum penalty is 20 years’ imprisonment for an individual and $10 million for companies.

South Australia

South Australia – Work The Health and Safety (Industrial Manslaughter) Amendment Bill 2023

The Industrial Manslaughter Amendment Bill adds, to the South Australia’s Work Health and Safety Act 2012, Penalties to Company Officers and Bodies Corporate that cause the death of an individual to whom they owe a WHS duty by engaging in “conduct with gross negligence” or by being “reckless as to the risk” of death, serious injury or illness.

New Penalties
• A maximum penalty of 20 years’ jail for company officers
• $18 million for bodies corporate

Note
For the purposes of the industrial manslaughter provisions, conduct will be deemed to have caused a death if it “substantially contributes to the death”, this clause can cover conduct that causes a person to be injured or contract an illness, including a mental illness, that “later causes the person’s death”.
This clause can include Suicide of a worker for example from Workplace Harassment if it is deemed to “substantially contributes to the death”

The new Industrial Manslaughter amendments Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) are likely to take affect in the next 6-months.

Victoria

WorkSafe – VIC Workplace Manslaughter   

The offence of workplace manslaughter came into effect in Victoria on 1 July 2020. A corporation or officer commits the offence of workplace manslaughter if they engage in conduct that is negligent, constitutes a breach of an applicable duty the person owes to another person, and causes the death of that other person.

The elements of the new workplace manslaughter offence are:

  • the person charged must be a body corporate or a person who is not an employee or volunteer
  • they must have owed the victim a specified duty under the OHS Act
  • they breached the duty owed by negligent conduct
  • the breach of the duty caused the death of the victim, and
  • if the person charged is a natural person they must have acted consciously and voluntarily when breaching the duty owed

Penalties

If convicted of workplace manslaughter, the following penalties apply (as at 1 July 2020):

  • a maximum of 25 years imprisonment for individuals, and
  • a maximum fine of $16.5 million for body corporates

These penalties reflect the seriousness of the offence and are designed to help prevent workplace deaths by creating a strong deterrent for organisations and individual officers against breaching their occupational health and safety duties.

DMIR (Worksafe ) Western Australia – Industrial Manslaughter

A new offence of industrial manslaughter commenced in Western Australia on 31 March 2022 as part of the Work Health and Safety Act 2020. The offence will apply where those who have a duty under the Act have failed to comply with that duty and that failure to comply caused a death. Only PCBU’s (a person conducting a business or undertaking alone or with others, whether or not for profit or gain) and their officers can be charged with industrial manslaughter. A PCBU can be a sole trader, each partner within a partnership, company, unincorporated association, government department or public corporation (including a local or regional government).

Penalties

The maximum penalty for an individual is 20 years imprisonment and a $5,000,000 fine.

The maximum penalty for a company is a $10,000,000 fine.

Tasmania – Industrial manslaughter is not currently an offence in Tasmania. There are no bills before the Tasmanian Parliament to introduce an industrial manslaughter offence.

Death in the workplace is almost always avoidable. Please review our Safety Services, it could just save a life.

29 of 369

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 https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/