The Australian Institute of Health and Safety (AIHS) has published a long article about Australia’s Industrial Manslaughter (IM) laws. It is a very good article but includes a lot of information that should already be familiar to those who have followed the development of IM laws over the last two decades.
The West Australian government presented its new Work Health and Safety (WHS) Bill to Parliament in November 2019 and debate has continued in February 2020. Joining with most other States in using the model WHS legislation is a major change for that State as it not only brings one set of occupational health and safety (OHS) laws to all businesses, including mines and petroleum, but it introduces the offence of Industrial Manslaughter. However, IM in WA has a two option penalty – “Industrial manslaughter – crime” and “Industrial manslaughter – simple offence”.
The nature of news/media reporting is that any story must be topical, but the nature of occupational health and safety (OHS) is that topicality is stretched over years of investigation or it stutters over time when a new bit of information is available. This has been the case with the aftermath of the deaths of four people at the Dreamworld theme park in Queensland and there is a strong likelihood that other topical news, such as the possible pandemic of CORVID-19, will mask the important management issues of Dreamworld.
Late yesterday the Queensland Minister for Industrial Relations, Grace Grace, issued a media statement that clarified the work health and safety (WHS) prosecution process that is likely to apply to Ardent Leisure, the owner of Dreamworld. Significantly she clarified the Coroner’s Findings and the misinformation of some media outlets. Ardent Leisure has issued a statement in support of safety improvements.
Today, the Queensland Coroner, James McDougall, handed down his findings into the deaths of four people at Dreamworld in 2018. The findings show major breaches of Queensland’s work health and safety (WHS) laws so why is the mainstream media saying Ardent Leisure, the owner of Dreamworld, could be prosecuted under industrial relations laws?