Tasmania encouraged to consider industrial manslaughter legislation

Tasmania encouraged to consider industrial manslaughter legislation

The Tasmanian Government is under pressure to update workplace safety legislation to include industrial manslaughter, with the Australian Lawyers Alliance pushing to allow the prosecution of PCBUs for workplace deaths.

While unions and Tasmania’s Labor party both support tougher penalties in the space, a Tasmanian government spokeswoman explained that the government is “committed ensuring Tasmanian workplaces are the safest in the country.”

She also explained that the current government is working with other jurisdictions to ensure the appropriate legislative considerations for protecting workers, but added that “the crime of manslaughter is provided for in our Criminal Code Act.”

Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesperson, Fabiano Cangelosi explained that more significant penalties in cases of workplace fatalities where there had been proven negligence would mean PCBUs are more likely to consider workplace safety seriously. He believes that industrial manslaughter laws would work to bridge the gap between the state’s criminal code and the Work Health and Safety Act.

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

“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.”

Nationwide, governments are preparing to consider the recommendations of an independent review into workplace health and safety.

Tasmania Labor workplace relations spokeswoman, Michelle O’Byrne, said that it is time Tasmania increased the severity of penalties handed down, and considered the inclusion of industrial manslaughter. Ms O’Byrne said modest fines sent the wrong message to employers.

From 2014 to May of this year, Tasmania recorded 38 workplace fatalities. During that same period, there were 2568 notifiable incidents. Worksafe conducted formal investigations into 21 of 38 workplace fatalities, 64 investigations into 858 cases of serious injury and 28 investigations into 1642 reports of dangerous incidents.

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