Industrial Manslaughter - A Major Shift in OHS Regulation
Sparke Helmore (Lawyers) report that Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews recently announced the Labor Party plans to introduce "industrial manslaughter" offences in Victoria if re-elected later this year.
Lawyers Sam Jackson and Gina Carosi advise that although the existing offences are likely to remain, the announcement suggests the new industrial manslaughter offences will seek to impose criminal sanctions on employers and individuals whose negligence causes the death of an employee, other worker or member of the public.
The announcement is significant for employers and senior managers in Victoria because of:
- the potential substantial penalties for those found guilty of the new offences—substantial fines and substantial period of imprisonment
- the apparent fundamental shift in the approach to occupational health and safety (OHS) regulation in Victoria
- the relevant standard that employers and individuals will be judged against in determining whether the offences have been committed remains unclear and may be substantially lower than one of the existing offences that provides for imprisonment of individuals (which currently requires "recklessness"), and
- the offences appear likely to apply more widely than those already introduced in Queensland, including when a member of the public has died.