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Leading academic joins call for Industrial Manslaughter laws

press release
September 19 2019

A leading Melbourne academic has called for the introduction of Industrial Manslaughter laws, claiming that legislation needed to “reflect the seriousness of workplace deaths”.

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, Professor of Workplace Law at RMIT University Anthony Forsyth said that safety legislation needed to impose personal responsibility upon employers.

“Industrial manslaughter legislation is needed across Australia, imposing criminal liability upon a corporation and its senior officers whose negligence causes the death of a worker,” he says.

“The imposition of serious criminal consequences, including possible jail time for individuals, is the only way to ensure that workplace safety breaches are not simply treated as the price of doing business.”

The call comes after the WA government announced it would introduce industrial manslaughter legislation into state Parliament this year. Laws are currently being drafted in Victoria, while such legislation already exist in the ACT and Queensland.

Calls for compulsory industrial manslaughter laws have also intensified in the Northern Territory after the death of a worker in a wall collapse.

Employsure Manager of Health and Safety Larry Drewsen said safety should be a major focus for every business.

“Workplace safety should always be part of the national conversation,” he said. “Every employee has a right to return home safely after a day at work.

“We’ve already seen industrial manslaughter laws introduced in the ACT and Queensland, and the current climate seems to suggest that other states will follow suit.

“It’s a clear message to employers to get their policies, procedures and practices up to scratch.”

According to Safe Work Australia, as at 12 September, 111 Australians have been killed at work in 2019.

Related: Download your 4-step Workplace Safety Checklist