Work should be rewarding and enriching. It should be the basis of welfare and prosperity for families, communities and the state. Every worker has the right to a safe and healthy workplace and all workers are entitled to expect to be able to return home from work safe and well. Workplace laws should be fair and protect all workers from unjust treatment and unsafe conditions.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. There is a fatal injury in the workplace every 20 days, on average, in Western Australia – a statistic that has remained tragically stable over the last 16 years. The persistent deaths and injuries show there is a clear need for law reform. We must reduce the number of people dying at work. We must hold culpable employers responsible for workers’ deaths.
That is why I have re-introduced my Criminal Code Amendment (Industrial Manslaughter) Bill into State Parliament. I first introduced the bill in 2010.
Currently, it is difficult to prosecute a company under the Criminal Code for manslaughter. Manslaughter legislation allows for the prosecution only of individuals who have directly caused an incident that has led to a worker’s death. My bill will make senior managers liable if they make a decision that knowingly allows an unsafe workplace. If that decision leads to a death or injury, those senior officers can be prosecuted.