Tim Lyon’s Best Practice Review of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has recommended the Queensland Government introduce a new offence of industrial manslaughter and tighten ride safety procedures.
The government commissioned the Best Practice Review in April this year following fatal incidents at Eagle Farm racecourse and Dreamworld in 2016.
Yesterday, an amendment bill to Parliament was introduced to implement the legislative recommendations arising from the Review.
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Industrial manslaughter will carry the maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and fines up to $10 million dollars for corporate offenders.
“Importantly, companies won’t be able to hide behind elaborate corporate structures to evade their responsibilities,” Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said.
“While the affected families will never get their loved ones back, they can take heart that individuals or companies responsible will be held to account under our laws.”
Between 2001 and 2016, 111 serious incidents on Australian rides were attributed to operator error according to the review.
The review suggested 58 changes, including closing old rides, banning teens from the controls, increased inspections and record keeping, and licensing of operators.
This is not the first time an industrial manslaughter offence has been proposed in Queensland.
In 2000, the Labor Government released a Dangerous Industrial Conduct Discussion Paper and sought public input into a proposed new offence for the Queensland Criminal Code called ‘dangerous industrial conduct’.
A 2006 Research Paper into Industrial Manslaughter compiled for Members of the Queensland Parliament reports that at the time of the release of the 2000 discussion paper there was “considerable publicity surrounding a number of workplace fatalities involving electrocution (especially of young apprentices)”.
They 2017 Best Practice Review recommendations tabled in parliament yesterday were supported in full by the government except for two that have been referred to the Workplace Health and Safety Board for further consideration.
“We will now begin working with industry to implement new arrangements which will be phased in, commencing the large theme parks from 1 December 2017.
“These new laws will ensure that Queensland’s work health and safety framework is robust and operates as an effective deterrent to those who would choose to disregard the safety of their workers or of the public.”
Ms Grace said changes under the Bill would ensure greater independence and transparency of the industrial prosecutions process in Queensland by providing the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission with additional powers, and establishing an independent statutory office for work health and safety prosecutions.
A copy of the final report can be read here.