Laws already exist to handle so-called offences of “industrial manslaughter”

Laws already exist to handle so-called offences of “industrial manslaughter”

Queensland’s peak solicitor body objects to the State Government’s plan to introduce the new criminal offence of “industrial manslaughter”, saying adequate laws already exist to cover such behaviour.

Queensland Law Society President Christine Smyth said the proposed changes to workplace health and safety laws were unwarranted because the Act and the State’s Criminal Code already provided offences, including manslaughter, to deal with wrongs in the workplace.

“QLS strongly advocates for evidence-based legislation and there is no evidence to suggest that such a new law will further deter either individuals or corporations or show that current criminal laws have failed,” Ms Smyth said.

“Individuals, including senior officers of a corporation can be held criminally responsible for deaths such as the Dreamworld tragedy.

“There is simply no evidence to show there has been injustice for those who have been injured due to a gap in the offence provisions.

“There does need to be an increase in Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s resources so that appropriate cases can be prosecuted.

“Layering a new law on top of an existing law is not the answer to improving processes and simply defies common sense.”

Ms Smyth’s comments follow Queensland’s Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace’s announcement that the government has introduced the new criminal offence in the Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017.

Ms Grace said the legislation would implement the 58 recommendations made by the Best-Practice Review – including new maintenance, operation and competency requirements for the inspection, operation of park rides and the industrial manslaughter law following the review.

The review was commissioned after last year’s Dreamworld Thunder River Rapids ride disaster and a fatal workplace accident at Eagle Farm Racecourse last year.

Ms Smyth praised the proposal to increase resources to boost the number of workplace inspectors.

“QLS has voiced its concerns about the lack of sufficient inspectors in its submission to the review,” Ms Smyth said.

QLS calls upon the Government to give an undertaking to properly resource appropriate numbers of inspectors, investigators, and prosecutors to perform their obligations to properly supervise and enforce compliance with workplace health and safety laws.


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