Victorian Government Submission

 
The prevention, investigation and prosecution of industrial deaths in Australia
                                    Submission 46

Victorian Government
Submission
Parliament of Australia
Senate Standing Committees on Education and
Employment
Framework surrounding the prevention,
investigation and prosecution of industrial deaths in
Australia
The prevention, investigation and prosecution of industrial deaths in Australia
                                          Submission 46

Authorised by the Victorian Government
1 Treasury Place, Melbourne, 3002

© State of Victoria 2018
The prevention, investigation and prosecution of industrial deaths in Australia
                                           Submission 46

1 Contents

2    Introduction ...................................................................................................... 2
3    Workplace Fatalities in Victoria ........................................................................ 3
4    Preventing Workplace Fatalities in Victoria ....................................................... 4
     4.1     Vulnerable Workers – labour hire ................................................................................... 6
     4.2     The role of unions and employers in creating a safe-work culture .................................. 6
     4.3     WorkSafe Industry Programs ......................................................................................... 7
             4.3.1      Construction .................................................................................................................. 7
             4.3.2      Major Hazard Facilities and Mines ................................................................................. 8
             4.3.3      Agriculture .................................................................................................................... 9

5    Victoria’s response to workplace fatalities ...................................................... 10
     5.1     Prosecutions ................................................................................................................ 11
     5.2     Workplace manslaughter .............................................................................................. 12
     5.3     Comparative Jurisdictions ............................................................................................ 12
     5.4     Closing remarks ........................................................................................................... 13

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Victorian Government Submission – Framework surrounding the prevention, investigation and prosecution
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2 Introduction
Victoria welcomes the opportunity to provide a submission on improving workplace safety.

At the same time, and with respect, we would prefer that the issue that necessitates this Inquiry -
preventing workplace deaths - was no longer relevant in 2018.

Rather, that in this day and age, no Australian lost their life at work, and no Australian was at risk of
losing their life at work.

The Victorian Government does not tolerate fatalities at work and believes the penalty system must
be a strong enough to deterrent to make sure employers take workplace safety seriously.

It is important to note that the scope of this Submission does not extend to responding to all of the
specific items in the Inquiry’s terms of reference. Rather - reflecting our own experiences in our
state - this submission outlines matters including:

       information about the incidence of workplace fatalities in Victoria, highlighting high risk
        industries;
       the regulatory framework that underpins the prevention of workplace fatalities in Victoria;
       WorkSafe Victoria’s (WorkSafe) activities to prevent workplace fatalities in Victoria, with
        particular focus on initiatives which have been undertaken to address risks in the
        agricultural and construction industries;
       the Victorian Government’s approach to responding to workplace fatalities; and
       enforcement action in the context of serious injury or fatality in Victorian workplaces
        including the Victorian Government’s commitment to introduce a new criminal off ence of
        workplace manslaughter.

WorkSafe’s vision is to ensure that Victorian workers return home safely every day. This is
achieved through partnership with workplaces and the community to deliver outstanding workplace
safety and return to work practices, together with insurance protection.

In its role as the regulator of workplace health and safety, WorkSafe’s key responsibilities inclu de
the prevention of workplace injuries, illness and fatalities and the enforcement of Victoria’s
occupational health and safety laws. WorkSafe also assists employers to meet their occupational
health and safety (OHS) obligations and to implement effective systems to prevent workplace
injuries.

WorkSafe’s role and the requirements that apply to Victorian businesses are set out in the
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (the OHS Act) and the Occupational Health and Safety
Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations). The OHS Act and OHS Regulations (Victorian OHS laws) are
the primary vehicles through which risks of workplace fatalities are regulated in Victoria. WorkSafe’s
primary focus is to achieve the objectives of the OHS Act, OHS Regulations, Dangerous Goods Act
1985 (Vic) and Equipment (Public Safety) Act 1994 (Vic) to secure the health, safety and welfare of
employees and the public.

WorkSafe’s responsibilities include:

       helping to prevent work-related deaths, injuries and disease;
       monitoring and enforcing Victoria’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) laws;

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Victorian Government Submission – Framework surrounding the prevention, investigation and prosecution
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                                          Submission 46

       providing adequate and just workplace injury insurance, including to the family members of
        workers who die as a result of a work-related injury; and
       managing Victoria’s workers’ compensation scheme.

3 Workplace Fatalities in Victoria
Over the last five years, there has been a substantial drop in the number of Victorians injured at
work. The number of claims per million hours worked in Victoria has dropped from 8.23 in the
2011/12 financial year, to 6.43 in the 2016/17 financial year.

Tragically though, Victorians are still dying at work. In 2017, we lost 27 lives as a result of
workplace incidents. This is the highest number of workplace fatalities since 2009. It shows that,
despite our significant work to improve health and safety standards, there is still more to do.

Additionally, the incidence of workplace fatalities in Victoria continues to fluctuate. Below is a table
of the number of workplace deaths in Victoria each year between 2008-2017.

Table 1 – workplace fatalities in Victoria

                       Year                Number of workplace fatalities

                       2008                22

                       2009                30

                       2010                23

                       2011                25

                       2012                18

                       2013                21

                       2014                23

                       2015                19

                       2016                26

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                       2017         27

Demonstrating that some industries remain particularly at risk, below is a breakdown of Victorian
workplace deaths in 2017 by sector:

Table 2 – workplace fatalities in Victoria by industry – 2017

Industry                                            Number of workplace deaths

Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing                   14

Manufacturing                                       2

Construction                                        3

Wholesale Trade                                     3

Transport, Postal and Warehousing                   2

Health Care and Social Assistance                   1

Arts and Recreation Services                        2

Total                                               27

4 Preventing Workplace Fatalities in Victoria
The Victorian OHS Act places a duty on employers to take steps to eliminate risks to health and
safety in the workplace. The OHS Regulations play a critical role in preventing workplace deaths by
prescribing what an employer must do to comply with these duties. The general nature of the duties
in the OHS Act means that they cover all reasonably identifiable risks to health and safety in the
workplace. In contrast, the OHS Regulations focus on specific risks where regulation is considered
the most effective and appropriate way to prescribe the method for controlling the risk, and where
lower level risk control measures (e.g. personal protective equipment or information) are not
considered adequate.

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The specific hazards and industries regulated by the OHS Regulations include:

       physical hazards including manual handling, noise, prevention of falls, confined spaces,
        plant (machinery), high risk work (use of scaffolding, operation of tower cranes, forklift
        trucks and boilers);
       hazardous substances and materials including scheduled carcinogenic substances,
        asbestos (including asbestos removal work) and lead; and
       hazardous industries including construction, major hazard facilities and mining.

Reliance on self-regulation in hazardous industries, even if supported by the general OHS Act
duties, is inappropriate given the significant consequences of major workplace incidents, including
workplace deaths. For example, at the time of the Esso Longford gas explosion in Victoria (which
tragically killed two employees and caused estimated losses of $1.6 billion), general duties were in
place and were supported by the 1996 National Standard for the Control of Major Hazard Facilities.
However, this proved insufficient to prevent, or mitigate the effects of the incident, which can at
least partly be attributed to the lack of prescriptive mandatory requirements in place at the time to
manage the risks inherent in the operation of a major hazard facility (source: Deloitte, Regulatory
Impact Statement for proposed Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 and Equipment
(Public Safety) Regulations 2017 (June 2016)).

The Victorian Government is committed to preventing risks to health and safety, including risks that
may result in workplace fatalities, thorough a constructive compliance approach to enforcing
Victorian OHS laws. This constructive compliance approach is based on a combination of positive
motivators and deterrents to improve workplace health and safety. The key aim of WorkSafe’s
inspection and other enforcement activities (i.e. remedial and punitive measures, including
prosecution) is to deter non-compliance with Victoria’s OHS laws and thereby prevent workplace and
work-related deaths, injuries, and disease. For this reason, enforcement action may be taken
proactively - that is, whether or not a breach of Victoria’s OHS laws has resulted in death, injury, or
disease. Related aims include the promotion of good OHS values and practices.

The Victorian Government supports better safety outcomes in workplaces across the state through
various initiatives, including:

       marketing campaigns, sponsorships, social media and industry events to build community
        awareness and support for healthy and safe workplaces;
       incentives which are provided in the form of premium discounts and grants as well as
        awards and public recognition for best practice in OHS;
       distribution of information and education to assist employers to comply with Victorian laws;
       inspection of workplaces and issuing of constructive advice and notices for compliance with
        OHS laws; and
       comprehensive investigation and prosecution of serious breaches of the Victorian OHS
        laws.

WorkSafe has also established formal Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with various
agencies across State and Federal jurisdictions. WorkSafe uses these relationshi ps where possible
to prevent workplace incidents through a range of collaborative initiatives such as joint
campaigns/inspections, information sharing and the development of guidance materials.

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4.1 Vulnerable Workers – labour hire
According to the Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research report on Developing a
Framework for Understanding and Measuring Occupational Health & Safety Vulnerability , OHS
vulnerability can be defined as an increased risk of experiencing a work -related injury or illness.
Due to their higher injury rates, younger workers, new workers, temporary workers, immigrants and
visible minorities are often labelled as vulnerable workers.

Recognising that labour hire workers are among those disproportionately affected by hazardou s
employment, the Victorian Inquiry into the Labour Hire Industry and Insecure Work (Labour Hire
Inquiry) was established by the Victorian Government, with its final recommendations delivered in
August 2016. The Labour Hire Inquiry found that there are various ways in which labour hire
workers are treated like a ‘second class’ of worker, with treatment ranging from outright exploitation
in certain sectors through to differential treatment in respect of issues like health and safety,
dismissal and rostering.

Victoria adopted the majority of the Labour Hire Inquiry’s recommendations, including support for a
national licensing scheme for labour hire operators. The Victorian Parliament recently passed
legislation to establish a Victorian licensing scheme, in the absence of any federal action. The
Victorian Government again urges the Federal Government to take action in this area by
establishing a national labour hire licensing scheme.

A key challenge is ensuring that labour hire workers have sufficient knowledge of health and safety.
It’s why a key response to minimise the risk of injury or fatality is through improved communications
and education campaigns in industries where there are concentrated populations of vulnerable
workers, such as in the construction and agriculture industries.

4.2 The role of unions and employers in creating a safe-work
    culture
The OHS Act and Regulations set out a range of health and safety duties and protections that are
owed by employers in respect of their employees. Under Victoria’s OHS framework, an employer
must provide a safe and healthy workplace for its employees and contractors.

Health and safety risks arising from work must be effectively managed by eliminating them, or
failing that, reducing the risks as far as is reasonably practicable, to protect workers and other
persons against harm to their health, safety and welfare.

In addition, employers must consult with their employees, so far as is reasonably practicable, when
identifying hazards, assessing risks and making decisions about how to deal with them.
Consultation is also required when making decisions about OHS procedures or facilities for
workers’ welfare or proposing changes that may affect health or safety.

Victoria recognises the significant and essential contribution that unions, employers and their
representatives make to the promotion of a safe work culture. It is only with their help that we can
continue to save lives, reduce injuries and return people to work through a fair and efficient
compensation scheme

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Specifically, the OHS Act supports the role of unions and employers in creating a safe work culture
by requiring WorkSafe to establish an OHS Advisory Committee (OHSAC) consisting of union and
employer representatives to advise the Board of WorkSafe in relation to promoting healthy and safe
work environments, and the operation and administration of the Victorian OHS laws.

The OHS Act also recognises the important role health and safety representatives (HSRs) play in
representing the health and safety interests of workers. An HSR is a worker who has been elected
by the members of their Designated Work Group to represent them, providing a way for their views
and concerns about health and safety to be heard by their employer. HSRs have been an important
feature of OHS in Victoria since 1985.

Research shows that when workers have input into health and safety, workplaces have better
health and safety outcomes. This means fewer workplace incidents and injuries. The Victorian
Government strongly believes in the importance of the role of HSRs, and WorkSafe actively
encourages all Victorian businesses to establish designated work groups and support the election
of HSRs.

4.3 WorkSafe Industry Programs
4.3.1   Construction
Construction is a high-risk industry. Between 2007 – 2016, construction has represented
approximately 22 per cent of Victoria’s workplace fatalities despite employing only approximately
ten per cent of its workforce (Source: 8155.0 - Australian Industry, 2015-16). Fatalities in
construction are most often associated with the industry’s prime hazards, such as:

       falls from height;
       contact with electricity;
       structural collapse;
       being struck or crushed by mobile plant; and
       being struck by falling objects.

Construction industry program

WorkSafe has a dedicated construction program that oversees a three year rolling strategy to
improve safety performance in the construction sector. The construction program’s primary scope of
responsibility includes promoting and enforcing compliance with the Victorian OHS laws, with
particular emphasis on part 5.1 (Construction) of the OHS Regulations. The Strategy is built in
collaboration with key stakeholders, including representatives of unions and             employer
organisations. At its core the Strategy is focused on reducing fatalities in the sector.

The Strategy is delivered via two primary service streams, being strategic interventions designed
with stakeholders aimed at preventing fatalities and responding to incidents and service requests
made to WorkSafe. The construction program seeks to emphasise a proactive and educative
approach to assist industry prevent workplace fatalities. Key initiatives include:

An Industry Education Officer who directly engages with unions and employer associations and
broader industry associations to raise awareness on topical OHS issues and promote cultural and
performance improvements. Particular emphasis is placed on achieving ‘generational’ change and

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improvement by engaging with young workers via TAFEs, Apprentice Schemes and other training
providers and educational institutions.

Development and dissemination of industry specific guidance materials to assist industry
participants and duty holders with hazard identification, risk control and compliance.

Publication of a fortnightly OHS E-news industry newsletter (Safety Soapbox), which communicates
topical industry OHS issues and news from Victoria, interstate and abroad. The newsletter has
around 17,000 subscribers and is in its 16th year of publication.

Development of sector specific OHS presentations at various industry forums.

Delivering communication campaigns utilising stakeholder networks and various media platforms
including Safety Soapbox, WorkSafe’s website and mainstream print, radio and social media.

4.3.2   Major Hazard Facilities and Mines
The major hazard facilities (MHF) (Part 5.2) and mines (Part 5.3) of the OHS Regulations set out
legal duties to control the risks of operating a major hazard facility and mines. They apply to the
operator of a facility who is the employer with management or control of the facility. To obtain a
licence to operate an MHF in Victoria, MHF operators are required to submit a Safety Case to
WorkSafe that sets out how the facility will be operated safely.

Mines are broadly regulated by the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and
Resources (DEDJTR) who administer the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990
(Mineral Resources Act). In order to operate a mine, an operator must obtain a licence or approval
under the Mineral Resources Act. The key principles, duties and rights in relation to the
occupational health and safety of a mine are regulated by Victoria’s OHS framework.

Incidents that occur at MHFs and in mines can be catastrophic. The focus for regulating MHFs and
prescribed mines is on the prevention of high consequence, low frequency type events by
assessing and testing the implementation and functionality of safety management systems and
control measures.

WorkSafe works closely with key industry stakeholders, including employee and employer
representatives, through the Major Hazards Advisory group and the Earth Resources Tripartite
Safety Forum to deliver its Major Hazard Program and Earth Resources Program.

WorkSafe’s Major Hazard Program: Currently there are 38 licensed and 2 registered MHFs in
Victoria. WorkSafe established a dedicated Major Hazard Program after the Esso Longford Gas
Plant Accident Royal Commission. This program undertakes the assessment and verification of
safety cases that are provided for licensing MHFs, and conducts a risk based oversight and annual
inspection process for licensed MHFs.

WorkSafe’s Earth Resources Program: The Earth Resources Program consists of established
processes that seek to monitor and influence continuous improvem ent in the Mines and Quarries
sector. Identified prescribed mines receive a higher level of regulatory oversight due to the greater
potential of multiple fatalities and serious injuries compared to surface mines and quarries.

These programs seek to emphasise a proactive and educative approach to assist industry to
prevent workplace incidents. Key initiatives include:

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       Developing and disseminating significant amounts of industry specific guidance materials
        such as Alerts, Guidance Notes, Handbooks and Information Sheets to assist industry
        participants and duty holders with hazard identification, risk control and compliance.
       Developing and delivering sector specific OHS presentations at various industry forums.
       Supporting the Land Use Planning framework in Victoria through the provision of advice to
        local councils in relation to development around MHFs to ensure the protection of local
        communities.

4.3.3   Agriculture
Since 1985, the agriculture sector has represented approximately 30 per cent of workplace fatalities
in Victoria whilst representing approximately only 3 per cent of employment in the state. Fatalities in
agriculture are most often associated with:

       powered plant and machinery (e.g. tractors and quad bikes);
       animal separation (e.g. stockyards and loading ramps); and
       contact with overhead powerlines.

Agriculture remains one of the most high-risk industries in Victoria. Farms are amongst the most
dangerous workplaces in Victoria. Victoria recognises the nature of agriculture is different to other
industries. Agricultural activity is widely dispersed across Victoria with many regions having
specialised farming enterprises. Income is subject to seasonal and environmental factors; with
many workplaces being family owned and operated small businesses. The traditional workplace
structure does not usually apply as workers are often family members or employed on a part -
time/seasonal basis and the director/manager is usually the owner/employer. The industry has low
union coverage and the Health and Safety Representative role is not as well represented as in
other industries.

WorkSafe’s Agriculture Program seeks to emphasise a proactive and educative approach to assist
the industry to prevent workplace fatalities. The Agriculture Program develops and disseminates
significant amounts of industry specific guidance materials such as Alerts, Guidance Notes,
Handbooks and Information Sheets to assist industry participants and duty holders with hazard
identification, risk control and compliance. For example, the Agriculture Program attends 20 field
days and farm days across the state of Victoria promoting safety in the agricultural sector each
year.

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 WorkSafe Victoria’s targeted initiatives in the high-risk agriculture industry – Quad bikes

 In March 2018, WorkSafe launched a compliance blitz on quad bike safety in agriculture. Quad
 bikes are relied upon by many farms but are also one of the leading causes of death on Victorian
 farms. Between 2011 and 2017, there were 25 deaths as a result of quad bike roll -over. Preventing
 injuries and death amongst quad bike riders is a key priority for WorkSafe. The causal factors of
 quad bike injuries and fatalities are complex and a range of interventions are required to ensure the
 safe use of these vehicles. The evidence for the most effective risk control measures are still
 evolving.

 Awareness: WorkSafe’s 2016 public awareness campaign highlighted the toll of workplace injuries
 and fatalities in the agricultural sector and called on farmers to reduce workplace risks by taking a
 few moments to think about safety before beginning a task or project. The follow-up quad bike
 campaign was delivered through various communication channels, including television, written
 press, radio, mobile billboards, digital advertising, electronic direct mail and online advertising. The
 campaign successfully increased farmers’ awareness that quad bikes are the biggest cause of death
 on Australian farms and challenged perceptions about workplace safety.

 Education and incentives: To incentivise farmers to improve quad bike safety, in 2016 the
 Victorian Government introduced a rebate scheme for the fitment of operator protective devices
 (OPDs) or purchase of an alternative vehicle/side by side vehicle (SSV). As at 2 May 2018, 3265
 rebate applications had been received, to the value of $2.9 million (1967 for OPDs and 1298 for
 suitable alternative vehicles).

 Partnerships: The Victorian Government has partnered with the Victorian Farmers Federation
 (VFF) to deliver the following initiatives:

        funding a Farm Safety Officer role to promote the creation of safer workplaces in agricultur e;
        supporting the VFF to administer the Victorian Government’s quad bike safety rebate
         scheme; and
        WorkSafe’s sponsorship of the AFL Victoria Country League and the Victorian Country
         Netball League, which helps WorkSafe to make genuine connections with people,
         workplaces and wider communities across our state, and promote safety in the agricultural
         sector.

 Enforcement: WorkSafe also began a targeted enforcement strategy as part of the quad bike
 campaign. WorkSafe’s inspectors have issued compliance notices for quad bike roll over hazards.

5 Victoria’s response to workplace fatalities
Up to 30 people are killed at work in Victoria every year – the Victorian Government believes this is
30 deaths too many.

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Victoria’s response to a workplace fatality comprises of clear notification requirements,
collaboration between multiple agencies, support for the families and those affected, and a strong
compliance and enforcement framework.

Under the OHS Act, duty holders are required to immediately notify WorkSafe where a workplace
incident results in death. The duty holder must preserve the incident site until a WorkSafe i nspector
attends the worksite or such other time as WorkSafe directs. The duty holder is also required to
provide further written information to WorkSafe within 48 hours of the incident.

WorkSafe also receives notifications from the Victorian State Coroner where a death has occurred
and it comes to light that the death may be the result of a contravention of Victorian OHS laws.

In the event of a workplace fatality, WorkSafe’s Emergency Response Service is engaged and
WorkSafe investigators will attend the relevant worksite. Work-related fatalities resulting from a
breach of the OHS Act will always be referred for potential comprehensive investigation by
WorkSafe with a view to prosecution.

5.1 Prosecutions
Since 2012, WorkSafe has successfully prosecuted 48 matters in relation to workplace fatalities in
Victoria. Under the OHS Act, a person (which includes a company) may be prosecuted if they have
failed to comply with their OHS duties under the OHS Act, including where this failure results in a
workplace fatality.
Example – Jacbe Building Pty Ltd

WorkSafe successfully prosecuted the director of Jacbe Building Pty Ltd under section 21 of the OHS
Act, after the director pleaded guilty to not providing a safe system of work.

This followed an incident where the director and a 21 year old apprentice were unloading three packs
of floor sheeting that had been craned onto the second floor trusses of a partially constructed
apartment in Caulfield. There was no safe system of work for unloading the sheeting onto the second
floor trusses to determine whether those trusses were capable of bearing the load. The trusses
collapsed onto the first floor, with both floors collapsing to the ground. At that time, the director and his
21 year old apprentice were working on the second floor. The director fell with the debris to the ground
and survived the collapse. The apprentice landed under the debris and was fatally injured.

The director was convicted and was sentenced to pay a fine of $180,000.

A person can also be prosecuted under section 32 of the OHS Act for an offence of reckless
endangerment. This offence arises where a person recklessly engages in conduct that places a
person, or may place a person, who is at the workplace in danger of serious injury. The offence
does not require a person to have died or have been seriously injured. Instead, this offence
responds to the risk to health and safety caused by the duty holder failing to take adequate
prevention measures.

The offence of reckless endangerment is currently the most serious offence under the OHS Act,
carrying a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years and/or a maximum fine of approximately
$285,000 for a natural person. In the case of a company, the offence carries a maximum fine of

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approximately $3.1 million. The fine for a company was more than doubled in 2016 to reinforce the
seriousness and additional culpability associated with reckless endangerment.

Under section 144 of the OHS Act, if a company contravenes a provision of the Victorian OHS laws
and it may be attributed to an officer of the company for failing to take reasonable care, the officer
can be prosecuted as a natural person and found guilty of an offence. An officer may therefore be
attributed with the offence of reckless endangerment.

A person may also be charged with the offence of stalking under section 21A of the Crimes Act
1958 (Crimes Act) for workplace bullying behaviours (such as threats and abuse) that lead to death.
The stalking offence ensures the certainty in the application of the c riminal law to cases of serious
bullying (punishable by 10 years in jail).

The provision - known as Brodie’s Law - was introduced after 19 year old Brodie Panlock tragically
ended her life after enduring ongoing bullying by her co-workers at a café in Melbourne in 2006. At
that time, charges were not available under the Crimes Act and instead, each offender was
convicted under the OHS Act. Three perpetrators were fined a total of $85,000 for failing to take
reasonable care for the health and safety of persons who may be affected by acts or omissions at
the workplace, while the employer company was ordered to pay $250,000 for failing to provide and
maintain a safe working environment.

5.2 Workplace manslaughter
Currently, a person -but not a company -may also be charged under Victorian criminal laws for
manslaughter as a result of a workplace fatality. Under Victorian criminal law, manslaughter is the
unlawful killing of a person without the intention of causing the death or grievous bodily harm of the
person. Under the Crimes Act the maximum penalty for manslaughter is 20 years imprisonment.
However, due to the nature of this penalty, it can only apply to a natural person, not a company.

The Victorian Government has announced that should it be re-elected, it will legislate a new
criminal offence of ‘workplace manslaughter’ in the OHS Act. The offence would cover the situation
where an employee dies, or is injured and later dies, as a result of negligent conduct of a business.
In addition to employees, the offence will also cover the situation where negligence causes the
death of someone other than an employee (such as a member of the public). Businesses that are
convicted of the offence would face maximum fines of almost $16 million (100,000 penalty units)
and senior officers or managers who are convicted of the offence will face a maximum pen alty of 20
years imprisonment.

The proposed new criminal offence aims to provide a strong deterrent for duty holders who fail to
meet their health and safety obligations.

WorkSafe will be responsible for prosecuting employers under the new workplace manslaughter
offence.

5.3 Comparative Jurisdictions
In Queensland, the offence was introduced under civil law in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011
and in the ACT the offence was introduced into criminal law under the Crimes Act 1900.

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The Queensland offence applies when a worker dies or is injured in the course of carrying out work
and later dies of that injury. For a person to be found guilty of an industrial manslaughter offence
the person’s conduct or negligence must cause the death of the worker. The maximum penalty for
the offence is 20 years imprisonment for an individual and a maximum fine of approximately $12.6
million for a body corporate. The offence was introduced in 2017, as a result of recommendations
from a review following the deaths of four people at the Dreamworld theme park and the deaths of
two construction workers at Eagle Farm Racecourse.

In the ACT, the offence of industrial manslaughter was created in the Crimes Act 1900 in 2004 on
the basis that the existing manslaughter provisions in ACT criminal law could only be applied to
individuals rather than corporations. In the ACT, the maximum penalty for an individual found guilty
of this offence is $300,000 and/or 20 years’ imprisonment. For a corporation, the offence carries a
maximum fine of $1.5 million.

5.4 Closing remarks
Every Victorian deserves to come home from work each day, safe and sound. The prevention of
workplace injuries, illness and fatalities and the enforcement of Victoria’s occupational health and
safety laws requires targeted efforts in high risk industries and close engagement between key
government agencies, employees, unions and employer groups.

As such, Victorian Government welcomes the Inquiry’s insights.

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