Proposed amendments to the NSW Work Health and Safety Act 2011 may see two new offences for industrial manslaughter added to the legislation. The proposed amendments have arisen as a result of Marie Boland’s 2019 report into the NSW work health and safety laws. If passed, NSW would follow the ACT and Queensland in adopting industrial manslaughter offences. The proposed NSW amendments are much broader than the Queensland legislation. The Queensland legislation is limited to the death of a worker (not others in the workplace) arising while carrying out work, and does not extend to reckless conduct.
Under the proposed amendments to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW), a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) or senior officer would commit an industrial manslaughter offence if:
- a worker or another person dies, or is injured and then dies, in the workplace;
- a death arises, irrespective of whether or not the death occurred in the course of carrying out work for the business or undertaking;
- the conduct was caused by the PCBU or senior officer; and
- the PCBU or senior officer was negligent or reckless.
If found liable, the proposed offence would result in a maximum penalty of up to 25 years’ imprisonment and $10.1 million.
The Bill has been introduced into NSW Parliament and is yet to be passed.
By Kelly Godfrey