Lawyers welcome new industrial manslaughter laws in Queensland

13th Oct 2017

The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has welcomed tough new workplace safety laws passed by Queensland’s State Parliament last night.

ALA Queensland President Michelle James said that the changes, which include new penalties for workplace fatalities where there has been negligence, will help to ensure that employers take workplace safety seriously.  

“These important new protections help to establish Australia’s toughest regime of work health and safety laws and regulations in the State of Queensland,” Ms James said.

“In particular, the new offence of ‘negligence causing death’ significantly strengthens regulation and compliance around workplace health and safety.  

“This new offence fills an obvious gap between the provisions of the Work Health and Safety Act and the Queensland Criminal Code, particularly in situations where someone is given a negligent direction or instruction to perform a task,” Ms James said.

“This is where a worker has been given instructions which are plainly contrary to appropriate safety practice and in which obvious safety concerns have been ignored.”

Ms James said that the investigation and prosecution of executive officers will help ensure that there is robust safety culture and leadership at the helm of corporate entities.

“The message is now clear: your workplace kills someone, you can spend some of the rest of your life in jail,” Ms James said.

“These upgraded laws are not just to the benefit of workers in workplaces. Visitors to workplaces can feel safer too, and safer workplaces means safer communities. The Dreamworld tragedy was in the context of many concerns about safety being ignored by the owners of the park. These laws will sharpen the focus on safety for all Queenslanders and tourists, “ Ms James added.

Ms James said the ALA called for the implementation of 'negligence causing death' measure in its submission to the State Government's Best Practice Review of Workplace Health and Safety.

Tags: Queensland Workers' rights