The Western Australian government will introduce new legislation to criminalise industrial manslaughter, alongside investing $12.9 million to enhance workplace health and safety.
The legislation creates two new offences, industrial manslaughter class one, with a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment, and industrial manslaughter class two, with a maximum penalty of 10 years for negligent behaviour. A body corporate can be fined up to $10 million under the new offences.
“The death of one worker is one too many, it’s time we introduce industrial manslaughter laws to make sure Western Australians are protected at work,” said WA Premier, Mark McGowan.
“Prison time sends a powerful message, but we don’t want it to come to that.
“We would much rather everyone came home safe from work, and that’s why we are boosting the number of safety inspectors, to put more cops on the beat.”
The recently announced funding will go towards 24 full time equivalent staff, including 21 inspectors. This investment will bring WA into line with NSW and Queensland, with one full time equivalent inspector per 10,000 employees.
The inspectors will be able to carry out more workplace inspections with 16 new vehicles, and those hired will include individuals with expertise in industrial and regional cases.
In addition to the inspectors, the WA government will launch a worker safety campaign.
Entitled Better Worker Safety, the campaign hopes to improve workplace safety by shifting attitudes and increasing awareness.
Public consultation is now open on the legislation, and the government will hold information sessions in Perth, Albany, Esperance, Karratha, Newman, Geraldton, Mandurah, Kalgoorlie, Broome, Port Hedland, midland, and Dongara.
“The McGowan Government is committed to improving workplace safety in Western Australia and ensuring that any changes to legislation are focused on ensuring workers’ health and safety,” said Industrial Relations Minister, Bill Johnston.
“I encourage the community to have their say on the modernisation of WA’s work health and safety laws, which is long overdue.”