Industrial manslaughter could become an offence Australia-wide after it was recommended by the reviewer in the first-ever national review into model work health and safety laws.
Independent reviewer Marie Boland made the industrial manslaughter recommendation alongside 33 other recommendations in her final report.
“It is critical that the community is confident that the model WHS laws enable justice to be administered fairly and appropriately,” she said.
Ms Boland considered that inclusion of such an offence “is required to address increasing community concerns that there should be a separate industrial manslaughter offence where there is a gross deviation from a reasonable standard of care that leads to a workplace death”.
The growing public debate surrounding the development of an industrial manslaughter offence was reflected in her consultations, she explained, with its requirement of addressing limitations of criminal law when dealing with WHS breaches.
“This new offence also aims to enhance and maintain harmonisation of the WHS laws,” she noted, highlighting the ACT and Queensland’s enactment of industrial manslaughter provisions.
The industrial manslaughter recommendation (number 23b in the report) said that the offence can be committed by a person conducting a business or undertaking and/or an officer, with any conduct engaged in on behalf of a body corporate being taken to be conduct engaged in by the body corporate.
The offence would cover the death of an individual to whom a duty is owed, Ms Boland said, with the offence to be drafted by Safe Work Australia alongside legal experts.