On average, one person every 17 days is killed in WA from traumatic work-related incidents. Once the figures associated with work-related injury and disease are also factored in, the situation becomes even more grim. Currently, one worker is injured every 30 minutes with injuries serious enough to take one or more days or shifts off work.
On average, 3 657 workers are injured each year to the extent that they have to take 60 or more days off work. This is a very serious and real problem, yet the seriousness of this is not reflected in existing legislation and this is unacceptable.
In July 2010, Alison introduced the Occupational Safety and Health Amendment Bill 2010 which seeks to introduce important reforms to increase the safety of workplaces in Western Australia, including the principle of corporate criminal responsibility.
The primary issue that the bill seeks to address is to ensure that culpable employers are held responsible for workers’ deaths. Every workplace death is a tragedy that also results in a lifetime legacy for loved ones left behind. Under existing laws, when an employer is responsible for an employee’s death, the penalties it faces are woefully inadequate. This bill seeks to remedy that.
The bill also introduces the offence of Reckless Exposure. Offenders will be penalised with a substantial fine and/or up to 5 years imprisonment if they recklessly expose someone to a substantial risk of serious harm. The bill will also improve investigation of workplace incidents and introduces the capacity for victims to make an impact statement for court proceedings.