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On 29 October, the Victorian Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter and Other Matters) Bill 2019 (the WSLA Bill) was introduced to parliament by State Workplace Safety Minister Jill Hennessy.
The proposed new offence includes fines of up to 100,000 penalty units (currently equating to $16,522,000) for bodies corporate, and jail terms of up to 20 years for company officers, who negligently cause a work-related death.
The provision is broadly based on Queensland’s industrial manslaughter offence. However, the Victorian Bill includes a number of controversial modifications including:
- Exclusion of workers.
- Capturing of workplace practices that “fail to create a culture of compliance”.
- Actions that cause a mental illness that leads to death.
- Negligent conduct or fatalities that occur in other jurisdictions.
A welcome exclusion is that fatalities resulting from “rogue” employees acting outside the scope of their employment cannot be used to prosecute an organisation.
On the 26 November 2019, the WSLA Bill passed Parliament.
The WSLA Bill will now be presented to the Governor for Royal Assent and is expected to come into effect on a day to be proclaimed or, at the latest, 1 July 2020.
Information on the WSLA Bill will soon be available on the WorkSafe website. The WSLA Bill is also available on the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website.