Zara McMahon

| January 01 2020

Planning for New Workplace Laws

The Victorian Parliament has created Australia's highest safety fine as Victoria is now the third Australian jurisdiction to make workplace manslaughter a criminal offence.

The new laws do not introduce new safety obligations, but significantly increase the penalties for negligence which causes fatal work accidents. The new laws will attract the highest penalty in the OHS Act, introducing maximum fines of $16.5m for employers and jail terms of up to 20 years for negligent individuals who cause workplace fatalities. The criteria

  • Cause the death of a worker or member of the public; and
  • Involve a breach of an OHS duty; and
  • Were negligent.

To prepare your business for the new legislation and ensure you have a strong safety culture, the steps you should look at taking include:

  • Update your Key Risks Register to ensure all serious and potential fatality risks are identified and controlled.
  • Complete a formal review of all your safety systems and controls currently in place and ensure they are fully effective.
  • Review actual work practices and confirm that the established procedures are known and actually followed, especially for critical procedures.
  • Conduct safety training e.g. include that any alleged negligent or not-compliant conduct is not authorised or permitted by the company or culture.
  • Education and awareness for directors, senior officers and managers on the new legislation and offences.
  • Review incident action plans and responses.
  • Confirm insurance coverage for your organisation and officers, where possible.