PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Western Australian government has flagged the introduction of a new Work Health and Safety Bill which will introduce industrial manslaughter laws punishable by up to 20 years' imprisonment.
The new offences will also carry a fine of up to A$10-million for a body corporate.
Premier Mark McGowen said that the introduction of the new legislation was a result of significant public concern and from recommendations of two recent federal reviews; the Boland review and the recent Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment report.
"The death of one worker is one too many, it's time we introduce industrial manslaughter laws to make sure Western Australians are protected at work.
"Prison time sends a powerful message, but we don't want it to come to that,” the Premier said.
Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston said that developing the Western Australian Work Health and Safety Bill involved an extensive consultative process, and all views submitted have been considered.
"In the interest of employers and employees, this Bill will broadly harmonise with the national model to deliver a common approach to occupational health and safety across various jurisdictions.
"The coming week will see the release of the consultation material for the regulations package covering general industry, mining industry, and the petroleum sector. This is an important next step in moving the implementation of this reform measure forward promptly.”
The Western Australian Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) have warned that the introduction of industrial manslaughter laws will not reduce workplace deaths and call on all Parliamentarians to take a more common-sense approach to improving workplace safety in the state.
CME CEO Paul Everingham said that safety is already the primary objective within the resources industry and the regulator has significant powers under existing Western Australian safety and health legislation.
“We firmly believe that any wrongdoing which contributes to injury or death on a work site should be dealt with by the justice system and there are adequate laws in place to deal with individuals.
“In the case of serious noncompliance with existing work, health and safety standards there are options to prosecute those who are responsible, including the use of criminal code manslaughter provisions.”
Everingham has welcomed the state government’s A$12.9-million investment into new initiatives to enhance workplace health and safety, including the appointment of 21 additional safety inspectors.