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HIA opposes industrial manslaughter laws

July 27, 2020

In November last year the Work Health and Safety Bill 2019 (WHS Bill) was introduced to Parliament.

Not only does the WHS Bill look to harmonise Western Australia’s safety laws with those adopted across the country (except Victoria), but also seeks to introduce industrial manslaughter offences which if passed will carry a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment for an individual and a fine of $10 million for a company.

Over the last 2 years HIA has been actively engaged in the consultation process in relation to the Work, Health and Safety Reforms in Western Australia.

On 21 May 2020 the Bill was referred to a Parliament inquiry for consideration and interested parties were invited to make submissions.

In its submission HIA opposed the adoption of an offence of Industrial Manslaughter.

 The introduction of such an offence is inconsistent with the overall objective of safety legislation which is to prevent workplace deaths rather than impose penalties and punishment after the event. Additionally, there are existing mechanisms for preventing, investigating and prosecuting a death at a workplace and, in HIA’s view, imposing a new offence is unlikely to improve safety outcomes.

HIA has also made submissions in response to both the proposed WHS Bill and accompanying regulations which can be accessed here (link to be inserted). These submissions outlined HIA’s concerns that a new framework will impose unnecessary additional cost, red tape and regulation at the expense of genuine, positive regulatory reform or improvement. HIA’s submissions also highlighting concerns with proposed changes to the approach to working at heights which lacks a clear threshold for physical fall protection.

A report is expected by the Parliamentary inquiry by 11 August 2020. HIA will notify Members as further information comes to hand in relation to the progress of the Work Health and Safety Reforms.