The NSW Liberal Government has recently rejected the introduction of new industrial manslaughter laws, with the NSW Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson claiming the new laws “sound tough but are little more than a catchy title”.
The rejection came as somewhat of a surprise given Queensland and the ACT have already adopted industrial manslaughter laws, while Victoria, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory have also committed to their introduction.
There have been two reviews at a national level that have recommended the introduction of industrial manslaughter law across Australia. The Senate Inquiry into Industrial Deaths undertaken in 2018 and the Marie Boland review of the model WHS laws that concluded earlier this year.
Mr Anderson said that the NSW Government had considered the approach taken in other states and alluded to the difficulty in bringing a successful prosecution under the new laws. The NSW government will instead focus on introducing laws as soon as possible to improve “risky work practices”, with Mr Anderson stating, “we shouldn’t have to wait until someone dies before taking action”.
In response, National Construction Secretary, David Noonan said the industrial manslaughter model used by Queensland since 2017 was “pretty good” but agreed courts struggled to get “the level of proof necessary to get a conviction”.
Safe Work Australia reports that, as of 7 November, there have been 138 Australian workers killed at work in 2019.
The Work, Health and Safety sphere is constantly evolving. If you have any questions about whether your workplace is meeting its obligations and following best practice, please don’t hesitate to contact Nick Stevens, Jane Murray or Angharad Owens-Strauss.