QLD lawyers welcome new workplace offence of negligence causing death

19th May 2017

The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has today welcomed a Queensland Government plan to introduce a new offence of ‘negligence causing death’ which it said will significantly strengthen regulation and compliance around workplace health and safety in the state.

ALA Queensland President Michelle James said that the new offence will help to send a clear message to corporate Queensland about social expectations around safety in the workplace.  

“The new offence will fill 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.

Ms James said that experience in other regulatory regimes strongly suggests that unless executive officers know that they can be prosecuted, then an insufficient deterrence exists.

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

“There should be clear penalties in the type of situation where a worker is given instructions which are plainly contrary to appropriate safety practice and in which obvious safety concerns have been ignored.”

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

“We now look forward to working closely with the Queensland Government on the draft legislation,” Ms James said.