7 April 2011
Parliament to debate introduction of offence of Industrial Manslaughter
Parliament will finally commence debate on a bill designed to, amongst other things, introduce the offence of Industrial Manslaughter into the criminal code. The Bill was originally introduced in 2010 by Greens MLC Alison Xamon to amend the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and the Criminal Code which could see senior managers face manslaughter charges if an employee dies as a result of their negligence or recklessness.
“If a company tries to cut corners with safety, knew that there were serious risks in doing so and that results in a person dying, managers directly responsible for these decisions could face manslaughter charges under this Bill. It sends a very clear message that pursuing a profit at the expense of workers lives will not be accepted,” Alison Xamon, WA Greens Spokesperson for Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety said.
The Occupational Safety and Health Amendment Bill 2010 introduces the offence of Industrial Manslaughter which would see individuals convicted of an offence imprisoned for up to 20 years and corporations fined up to $3m. Courts would also have the right to order corporations to publicise the death or deaths. Currently in WA, if an employer negligently causes the death of a worker, at the most individuals are penalised with a fine and imprisoned for 2 years, and corporations only have to pay a fine.
“We know that legislation works. Since the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 came into effect, we have seen fatality rates fall consistently. The Greens’ Bill and amendments would help this downward trend to continue,” Ms Xamon said.
“In the 2010-2011 period so far, there have been 15 work-related fatalities. That’s a huge increase from the previous year, which saw 9 fatalities. If we can prevent just one death with tougher legislation, then we have an obligation to do that. Every worker has the right to go home at the end of the day.”
The Bill also introduces a series of other changes including the offence of Reckless Exposure which penalises employers who expose employees to substantial risks of death or serious bodily harm, and a requirement to preserve the site of an incident until an inspector arrives or directs otherwise. It also increases penalties across the board to bring them in line with other states.
“The vast majority of companies do the right thing and I believe will welcome these changes. The Bill hasn’t been designed to catch the average employer out, or to make life difficult for small or large businesses. However, if a company is willingly cutting corners with safety, their senior officers will no doubt lose sleep over this Bill and I have little sympathy for them,” added Ms Xamon.
For further comment contact Alison Xamon
Hon Alison Xamon MLC
Member for the East Metropolitan Region
Office: 62 Eighth Ave Maylands WA 6051
Postal Address: PO Box 104 Maylands WA 6931
Phone: (08) 9272 1718
Fax: (08) 9272 1719
Portfolios: Water, Urban Bushland, Mental Health, Education, Training, Industrial Relations, Employment, Occupational Health & Safety, Disabilities, Women, Children & Youth, Public Service, Community Services,Electoral Affairs, Consumer Protection, Vet Affairs, Volunteering