Victoria will soon implement the nation’s highest maximum workplace health and safety fine of over $16 million, along with industrial manslaughter laws, after Labor retained power in last weeks state election landslide.
A key pre-election commitment from the Andrew’s government was tougher penalties for businesses that do the wrong thing. This included significantly increasing the penalties for employers whose negligence leads to the death of an employee.
It also included adding an industrial manslaughter offence to the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (see related article). In announcing the commitment in May, the Labour government said penalties needed to be a “strong enough deterrent to make employers take workplace safety seriously, and not rely on deep pockets to avoid accountability while cutting corners on safety.”
“We’ll amend the OH&S Act, so that if an employer’s negligence causes death – they will be held to account. That doesn’t just mean thousands of dollars in fines, that means millions. And it’ll mean jail time – up to 20 years,” said Andrews.
If Labour acts on its pre election commitments, an employer whose negligence leads to the death of either a worker or a member of the public could be fined up to 100,000 penalty units, which equates to $16,119,000. This would be significantly higher than Queensland’s fine of $10 million for industrial manslaughter – currently the nation’s highest workplace health and safety fine.
Andrews said WorkSafe Victoria would be given extra powers and resources for investigating and prosecuting the new industrial manslaughter offence.
Other pre-election commitments include:
- Changing the Occupational Health and Safety Act to ensure definitions of violence at work include gendered harassment and sexual violence.
- Enacting stronger penalties for sexual harassment and sex-based violence in the workplace.
- Looking at introducing a provisional payments scheme so workers can receive an income while a WorkCover claim is being progressed.
- Investing $12.7 million to improve WorkSafe’s capacity to deal with the unique health and safety risks on major construction projects.