In a pre-election statement, the now re-elected Victorian Labor state government promised to increase the maximum work health and safety penalty to up to $16,119,000 for businesses that have been found responsible for a workplace death caused by negligence.
A newly created criminal offence of workplace manslaughter will be added to Victoria’s Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, under which individuals will also be held accountable.
Anyone found responsible for negligently causing a workplace death can face up to 20 years’ imprisonment.
Currently, the highest work health and safety fine in Australia is in Queensland, for industrial manslaughter, where the maximum penalty is $10 million and / or 20 years’ imprisonment.
The state Labor government said in its media release earlier this year that penalties “must be a strong enough deterrent to make employers take workplace safety seriously, and not rely on deep pockets to avoid accountability while cutting corners on safety”.
“This new law sends a strong message that putting people’s lives at risk in the workplace will not be tolerated.
“WorkSafe will be responsible for prosecuting employers who do the wrong thing and will be given the powers and resources needed to carry out justice.”
Premier Daniel Andrews said “It couldn’t be more simple: no one should die at work. These laws will help make sure that every Victorian makes it home to their loved ones.”
“Families who have lost a loved one at work deserve justice – and that means jail, not a slap on the wrist.”