Victoria the next state to introduce manslaughter offences

WorkSafe Victoria has released a webinar that outlines the state’s new workplace manslaughter offences, which come into action in July.

Individuals who are convicted of workplace manslaughter in Victoria can receive a maximum 20 years’ imprisonment, and a maximum fine of $16.5 million for body corporates.

A worker who has a duty of care to ensure the health of safety of someone else in the workplace can be charged with workplace manslaughter.

Senior officers of organisations can also be charged with workplace manslaughter if the organisation “owes applicable duties”, WorkSafe Victoria stated.

This includes directors and secretaries of companies; partners under a joint venture; trustee of a trust; people that participate in key decision of the business, people who can significantly alter the organisation’s financial standing.

According to WorkSafe Victoria, the law also applies when a person accused of manslaughter has a duty of care under the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act; breaches the duty of care by criminal negligence during a scenario involving a high risk of death, serious injury or illness; breaches the duty of care that causes the death of a victim; is considered a body corporate or someone who was not an employee or volunteer.

This highlights that people can be convicted under negligent conduct.

“Voluntary and deliberate conduct is ‘negligent’ if it involves a great falling short of the standard of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances and involves a high risk of death, serious injury or serious illness,” WorkSafe Victoria stated.

Examples of this include poor management and supervision of employees and a lack of action to fix a dangerous situation or circumstance which results in death, serious injury or serious illness.

The manslaughter law is listed under Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 that passed in Victoria’s Parliament last year.

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