As of July 1st, Victorian employers are subject to new workplace manslaughter laws and face tough new penalties should their negligence lead to a worker’s death.
The new laws target any PCBU (person conducting business or undertaking) failing to uphold their health and safety obligations, which leads to a worker dying on the job.
The new punishments outlined include up to 25 years jail time for individuals and up to $16 million in fines for corporations.
Along with the new laws, WorkSafe Victoria has appointed a specialised Fatalities Investigations Team – responsible for investigating workplace deaths.
The team is currently comprised of 11 members – eight of whom are experienced WorkSafe Investigators, working alongside three new investigation graduates who worked previously with Victorian Police.
WorkSafe Vic has also expanded the definition of a workplace death to include:
- Those killed on the road while working
- Suicides attributable to a workplace health & safety failure
- Deaths from industrial diseases (e.g. silicosis)
- Workplace deaths resulting from a criminal act
All of which will now be represented in WorkSafe Vic’s fatality toll. According to WorkSafe, there have been 41 deaths in Victoria in 2020 under the expanded definition.
In an article release detailing the new laws, WorkSafe Victoria has stated:
“This change will ensure the death of every worker gets the recognition it deserves and bring increased focus to workplace health and safety to re-enforce to Victoria’s employers that they must make it their number one priority.”