The Queensland Government has introduced legislative changes to create a new offence of industrial manslaughter.
Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said the creation of the new offence was one of 58 recommendations contained in Tim Lyons’s Best Practice Review of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland released on August 22, 2017.
The government commissioned the Best Practice Review, following two shocking workplace incidents at Eagle Farm racecourse and Dreamworld last year that cost six people their lives.
“We promised to get industrial manslaughter on the books in Queensland, and to send out a strong message that if you cost someone their life, you will pay," Grace said.
“Under our proposed laws, the maximum penalty for industrial manslaughter will be 20 years imprisonment for an individual, with a maximum fine of $10 million for a corporate offender.
“Importantly, companies won’t be able to hide behind elaborate corporate structures to evade their responsibilities. While the affected families will never get their loved ones back, they can take heart that individuals or companies responsible will be held to account under our laws,” Grace said.
“Our harsher penalties will serve as a deterrent to employers who are tempted to cut corners when it comes to safety in the workplace.”
Grace believes the Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill seeks to implement the 58 recommendations in the Best Practice Review.
“Most of the recommendations relate to operational improvements for Workplace Health and Safety Queensland or the WHS Board,” Grace said.
“However, a number of these recommendations need legislative changes to the Work Health and Safety Act, the Electrical Safety Act and the Safety in Recreational Water Activities Act.
“In line with the Review’s recommendation, the government will be increasing public protection by introducing new maintenance, operation and competency requirements for the inspection and operation of amusement devices.
“This will include an obligation to prepare a safety case and the application of a licensing regime.
“We will now begin working with industry to implement new arrangements, which will be phased in, commencing with the large theme parks from 1 December 2017.
“These new laws will ensure that Queensland’s work health and safety framework is robust and operates as an effective deterrent to those who would choose to disregard the safety of their workers or of the public.”
Grace said changes under the Bill would ensure greater independence and transparency of the industrial prosecutions process in Queensland by providing the QIRC with additional powers, and establishing an independent statutory office for work health and safety prosecutions.
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