Industrial Manslaughter concerns of the Victorian government taskforce

In April this year the Victorian Government’s Workplace Manslaughter Implementation Taskforce raised the following issues in its Criminal Law Reform Consultation Paper, seen by the SafetyAtWorkBlog:

  • the definition of “person” in the OHS and proposed Industrial Manslaughter laws
  • the establishment of negligence and the standard of care expected by the reasonable person
  • the extension of Industrial Manslaughter offence to the deaths of members of the public
  • whether a decision or act causes the death or only contributes to it
  • exceptions to the laws beyond just volunteers
  • inter-agency cooperation and coordination for effective prosecutions.
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Bereaved families group demands changes

Documents related to the development and implementation of Industrial Manslaughter laws in Victoria and seen by SafetyAtWorkBlog say that the Department of Justice and Community Services will draft a policy paper on the laws prior to the proposed Industrial Manslaughter Bill being presented to Parliament in October or November. October’s Work Health and Safety Month promises to be lively this year.


Participants in the Workplace Fatalities and Serious Incidents Reference Group had expressed concerns about the phoenixing of companies after a workplace fatality and that workplaces where deaths have occurred should be treated as a crime scene that:

“…should not be operational until a full investigation is complete”

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The Victorian Government remains secretive on Industrial Manslaughter laws

Victoria’s Department of Justice and Community Safety’s Freedom of Information correspondence is headed:

“Information Integrity & Access”.

For the last few months SafetyAtWorkBlog has been chasing the Workplace Manslaughter Consultation Paper through official channels and been granted “two pages in full”, “four pages in part” and been refused access in full to most of the Consultation Report.  This decision (available here) is because

“These documents include information concerning opinion, advice or recommendation of an officer and the personal affairs of third parties, which cannot be disclosed [for reasons given in the letter]”.

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“They did not know what to say, so they stop saying anything at all”

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Behind every call for Industrial Manslaughter laws in Australia over the last twenty years has been is a deeply grieving family. We often see relatives on the TV News, standing outside of Courts, or at memorial sites. SafetyAtWorkBlog fears for the mental health of these people who have usually been traumatised by the death and whose experiences in the immediate aftermath and the months afterwards often exacerbates that trauma.

But people have been killed at work for centuries and often the current pain and anger is so raw that we fail to remember those who have already gone through this process because their voices have often been used and discarded.

SafetyAtWorkBlog spoke with several bereaved relatives who have experienced the loss of a relative at work. The focus was on those whose relatives died over a decade ago, to gain a more measured and reflective perspective and in order to understand what may be in the future for all of us who have workers in our families. I responded more emotionally to these stories than I expected and have found it difficult to write about the issues I intended to address, so I have decided to let these interviews and stories stand pretty much by themselves.

The first of these responses is from Jan Carrick. Her 18-year-old son Anthony died in 1998 on his first day at work. One article written in 2003 about Anthony’s death and that of other young workers said this:

Continue reading ““They did not know what to say, so they stop saying anything at all””

Law Conference challenges everyone

This week Safe Work Australia commenced another round of public consultation on the recommendations of the Boland Report. There was no hint of this at last week’s WHS Prosecution and Enforcement Conference. That conference had no speaker from SWA but it did have Marie Boland as a keynote speaker, and even she made no mention of this next stage of consultation. However, the conference was lively, challenging and revealing.

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