An Update on Workplace Manslaughter Laws

For years we have been hearing about deaths in workplaces in Victoria every year. This is a hard subject to talk about but it is very timely. Negligence has been something many employers have been practicing which leads to employee deaths. In Victoria, the recorded number of fatality is 30 a year which is very alarming. Fortunately, the re-elected Andrews Labor Government has had enough.

The Andrews Labor Government has formed and will introduce tougher new laws to protect Victorian employees. The new laws state that employers whose negligence result to an employee death will have face up to 20 years in prison. This penalty should force employers to never underestimate the importance of taking safety precautions at all times. Some employers do not take safety seriously which eventually leads to unfortunate events.

The Andrews Labor Government will create a criminal offense of workplace manslaughter which will include in the Occupational Health & Safety Act 2004, and under this law, employers will be fined $16 million. In addition to this, not only employers will be held accountable but also those individuals who negligently caused the death of an employee will have to face 20 years in prison if proven guilty. This should send a message to employers to never take safety too lightly. This legislation has opened conversations and meetings between the Workplace Manslaughter Taskforce and the Master Builders Victoria.

Last May 23rd, the second meeting between Workplace Manslaughter Task Force and the Master Builders Victoria was held to discuss concerns about the legislation that will be made and the consequences it could potentially result in. The first meeting began last March 28th. One of the concerns that were raised was that the Andrews Government has not yet fully considered the appeal to include the employees as well as their responsibilities in the legislation. This would be deemed unjust because innocent employers will have to face imprisonment. Master Builders Victoria maintains that if the safety standards are not met and caused a death in the workplace, the very people responsible should be the ones to be held accountable.

The second concern raised pertains to the inclusion of organizational liability, which means that the very organization could be held accountable for death occurred even if it was due to an employee’s negligence. This is per the UK legislation and in their version, the involved individuals will be subjected to fines. The third concern raised regarding “substantial element of the breach must result from the way in which the activities are managed or organized by senior management. “It’s said the current proposal does not include this.

The meeting definitely sent a strong message about the fair inclusions in the legislation. Master Builders Victoria is asking for feedback and support so the concerns will reach the government because it’s unacceptable to not include elements in the legislation that are plain unfair. The meeting will continue to discuss the things pertaining to the building and construction industry. They are firm to fight for fair and rational legislation.

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