NSW wants stronger penalties for industrial manslaughter offences

Proposed penalties for violating firms could reach $20 million

NSW wants stronger penalties for industrial manslaughter offences

The New South Wales government is looking to hike the maximum penalties for employers committing industrial manslaughter in a new bill that it plans to introduce to Parliament.

The bill seeks a maximum penalty of 25 years of jail time for an individual or a $20-million fine for a body corporate.

The proposal significantly increases the current maximum penalty in NSW of five-year imprisonment for an individual or a $3.8-million fine for a body corporate.

"The significant maximum penalties that will apply for this offence make it clear how important it is to take a proactive approach to meeting work health and safety obligations to provide a safe workplace," said Attorney General Michael Daley in a statement.

Industrial manslaughter offence

According to the NSW government, it plans to introduce the new measures in the first half of the year.

"Any workplace death is a tragedy and in cases where a person with a work health and safety duty has been careless or irresponsible, they must be held accountable," said Work Health and Safety Minister Sophie Cotsis, in a statement.

"The offence of industrial manslaughter will apply to the worst of the worst cases where gross negligence has caused the death of a person in a workplace."

Strong public demand

New South Wales is the last mainland state without an industrial manslaughter offence, according to its government.

But demand for related legislation has been growing in the state, according to a Unions NSW survey.

It found that 68% of employees would support the Labour's plan to introduce industrial manslaughter as a specific offence. Only nine percent opposed it, while 23% remained undecided.

"The people of New South Wales want corporations and CEOs held accountable for workplace deaths," said Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey in a statement. "It is simply unacceptable that workers continue to lose their lives due to negligent and unsafe practices. Industrial manslaughter laws will deliver justice for victims and their families."

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