Kill A Worker, Go To Jail: Greens Reintroduce Bill For Industrial Manslaughter Laws

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Monday the 5th of October is the Labour Day public holiday in South Australia, commemorating the achievements of the Australian labour movement and in particular the movement for eight hours work, eight hours rest, and eight hours play. But what happens when someone doesn’t come home from those eight hours of work?

Greens MLC Tammy Franks has reintroduced the Greens’ Bill designed to create a new offence of “Industrial Manslaughter” in South Australia.

During the 2018 state election, the Labor Party committed to industrial manslaughter laws that are at least as strong as those in Queensland. We will be holding them accountable to that promise. 

The Greens will bring this Bill to a vote this year.

Following previous debate, the penalties in this Bill have been updated to better reflect those in the Queensland legislation.

Under this Bill an employer is guilty of an offence, with a maximum fine of $13 million and up to 20 years imprisonment, if:

  1. The employer breaches their duty of care;
  2. An employer knew, or was recklessly indifferent, that the act or omission constituting the breach would create a substantial risk of serious harm to a person;
  3. The breach causes the death of a person.

The following quotes are attributable to Tammy Franks:

“South Australia needs specific laws to protect employees and prevent employers from taking shortcuts that may endanger workers’ lives. This Bill seeks to capture a very small minority of employers who cruelly put their workers through unnecessary risk and would only apply in the event that an employee tragically dies. We need to change the rules – and our workplace laws – to deter negligent employers.

“As legislators, it is our responsibility to ensure that employers have a genuine incentive to provide a safe workplace. We have many carrots in our system, but we do need a few sticks. 

 “The Greens want to ensure that employers are taking their duty of care to their employees seriously. Every single workplace death is significant. Each one is a tragedy that will affect the lives of many others forever. 

“The Parliament has considered and debated industrial manslaughter laws on several occasions in the past, yet despite broad support we still haven’t passed an actual Bill. Given we all seem to agree that industrial manslaughter should be a crime, let’s hope this year we all come together and actually make it one.