Industrial manslaughter in Qld
WHO SHOULD READ THIS
- All Queensland businesses and their senior officers.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
- The Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 has been passed with minor amendments and, as previously advised, will significantly amend Queensland work health and safety legislation, including the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld).
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
- Pending the changes coming into force, review work health and safety processes and procedures, and check insurance policies regarding coverage, including for statutory liability.
Following our 25 August 2017 Focus Article in which we flagged significant pending amendments to Queensland’s work health and safety legislation, the Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 has now been passed by the Queensland Parliament, with minor amendments.
Changes now made to the new industrial manslaughter offence are to:
- clarify that a worker carrying out work for a business or undertaking includes a worker at the workplace to carry out work, including during a work break, and
- remove the ability for there to be a defence to a prosecution for industrial manslaughter based on section 23 of the Criminal Code 1899 (Qld). Relevantly, this means that claiming that a matter resulted due to an accident, or was not intended or reasonably able to be foreseen, will not be available to avoid liability for industrial manslaughter.
The only other significant amendment will require person conducting a business or undertaking to give the relevant regulator a copy of any provisional improvement notices issued by a health and safety representatives as soon as practicable after the notice is issued. Failure to do so may result in a penalty being imposed.
The Queensland resources industry have earned a reprieve, with late proposed changes to extend an offence of industrial manslaughter to that industry being put on hold. Whether this will be revisited after the next election remains to be seen.
Otherwise, Queensland has now embarked on a course that differentiates it from other jurisdictions with harmonised work health and safety laws, and joins the ACT as the only Australian jurisdictions with an offence of industrial manslaughter.
Full details of the changes are set out in our 25 August 2017 Focus Article, and we therefore will not repeat all of them here.
In light of the changes, with some coming into force on proclamation and others being deferred until 1 July 2018, we strongly advise businesses to review existing work health and safety processes and procedures to ensure compliance. At a practical level, businesses should also revisit their insurance policies for coverage, including for statutory liability, noting that there will be limits on what insurance will cover for this offence.
This publication covers legal and technical issues in a general way. It is not designed to express opinions on specific cases. It is intended for information purposes only and should not be regarded as legal advice. Further advice should be obtained before taking action on any issue dealt with in this publication.