WA Bosses Face 20 Years Jail Under Industrial Manslaughter Laws

The Western Australian government has announced a new Work Health and Safety Bill that includes industrial manslaughter offences punishable by up to 20 years’ imprisonment.

The new offences also carry a fine of up to $10 million for a body corporate.

In a joint statement, Premier Mark McGowan and Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston said the new Bill would modernise workplace safety laws, better protect workers, and hold those responsible for any workplace deaths to account.

Under the new laws:

  • Bosses who commit a class one industrial manslaughter offence, the most serious offence, will face up to 20 years’ imprisonment.
  • Bosses who commit a class two industrial manslaughter offence, for negligent behaviour, will face up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Premier McGowan said the push for an industrial manslaughter offence was the result of significant public concern, and guided by the recommendations of two recent Federal reviews – the Boland review and the recent Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment report.

“The death of one worker is one too many, it’s time we introduce industrial manslaughter laws to make sure Western Australians are protected at work. ”

“Prison time sends a powerful message, but we don’t want it to come to that.”

Despite being recommended by the Boland Review, a number of employer groups recently expressed concerns over the Victorian Government’s proposed industrial manslaughter laws, claiming they would give rise to unintended consequences which impair, rather than enhance, health and safety outcomes (see related article).

As part of the new Bill, the state government also announced $12.9 million for new workplace health and safety initiatives, including an additional 21 WorkSafe inspectors.

This will bring the total number of WA inspectors to 120, brining the state in line with NSW and QLD, and ensuring that a ratio of 1.0 inspector FTE per 10,000 employees is met.

“These inspectors will investigate fatal and serious incidents, and an additional 16 vehicles will be added to the fleet, to lift the number of workplace inspections. There will also be inspectors with expertise in industrial and regional cases and those inspecting service industries and specialists,” the statement says.



Jared Butt

August 28, 2019