Tough new industrial manslaughter laws aimed at protecting Queensland workers on the job have been passed by State Parliament.
Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said the new laws would leave negligent employers culpable in workplace deaths with nowhere to hide.
“Negligent employers culpable in workplace fatalities in Queensland will face severe penalties for the new offence of industrial manslaughter,” she said.
“Individuals guilty of industrial manslaughter will face 20 years imprisonment, with corporate offenders liable for fines of up to $10 million.
“These penalties send out a strong message to all employers that negligence causing death won’t be tolerated under any circumstances.
“Because of increasingly elaborate corporate structures, up until now it’s been difficult to prosecute some employers for manslaughter.
“But these new laws will hold all employers - regardless of their size or structure - accountable for negligence contributing to a worker’s death.
“Last year’s tragic workplace deaths at Eagle Farm and Dreamworld, which cost six people their lives, brought home the need for these tough new laws.
“The legislation passed today is all about ensuring all Queensland workers can return home safely to their loved ones after a day’s work.”
Ms Grace said the creation of the new offence of industrial manslaughter was one of 58 recommendations contained in Tim Lyons’s Best Practice Review of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
“The LNP stands condemned for voting against these laws, and in doing so, failing to put the safety of Queensland workers first,” she said.
“Saving lives in the workplace should be beyond politics but sadly the LNP put its own interest above those of Queensland workers.”
Michael Garrels, who lost his 20-year son Jason to a preventable workplace accident in Clermont in 2012 and who sits on a government committee established to empower and give other people affected by workplace tragedies a voice, said:
“It’s great to see the government implementing a crucial preventative measure like this to protect Queenslanders in the workplace.
“I believe these laws will definitely save lives and that if they’d been in place at the time they would have made a difference in my son Jason’s case.
“The only people with anything to be afraid of are those that are doing the wrong thing.
“Of the 40 affected families who have been actively involved in the committee, not one of them thinks the creation of this new offence is a bad idea.”
For businesses that are taking steps to manage the risk of injury or ill health for their people, the above news should be of little concern. However what it does illustrate, is that Queensland has now become committed to implementing a clear and tough message that negligence and reckless endangerment will carry serious consequences.
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