Industrial manslaughter laws needed to set workplace safety expectations

Tougher industrial manslaughter laws are needed in Tasmania says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) supporting Labor’s push to permit the prosecution of companies for a death in the workplace.

ALA spokesperson Mr Fabiano Cangelosi said clear and significant penalties for workplace fatalities where there has been negligence, will help to ensure that employers take workplace safety seriously.

“We need to make the message clear: if your workplace kills someone, you could go to prison,” said Mr Cangelosi.

“Employers and businesses need to know they can be prosecuted and that the consequences, including prison time, will be significant if they do not take safety seriously.

“Industrial manslaughter laws will fill the gap between the provisions of the Work Health and Safety Act and the Tasmanian Criminal Code, particularly in situations where someone is given a negligent direction or instruction to perform a task.

“We need to ensure there are consequences when a worker is injured or killed because they have been given instructions which are plainly contrary to appropriate safety practice and in which obvious safety concerns have been ignored.”

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

“Experience in other states of Australia indicates that the possibility of criminal charges is a strong motivator to ensure safety at a workplace,” said Mr Cangelosi.

“A change to the law to allow criminal charges for a death at a workplace would send a clear message to corporate Tasmania about expectations around safety in the workplace.”

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