AICD submission on NSW industrial manslaughter laws

Monday, 18 March 2024

On 18 March 2024, the AICD provided a submission to SafeWork NSW on the proposed introduction of a industrial manslaughter offence within the NSW Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW WHS Act).

The AICD strongly supports robust and effective laws that ensure the health and safety of employees in the workplace, noting that laws in this area must be fair, balanced and consistent. Aside from legal obligations and ethical expectations, it is critical that directors and officers pay particular attention to the health and safety of employees and others within the workplace. 

While the AICD has not supported the introduction of industrial manslaughter offences in previous consultations due to existing criminal law offences providing a pathway for prosecutions in relation to workplace fatalities, we recognise the need to harmonise WHS regimes across the States, Territories and the Commonwealth, as recommended by the Boland Review of the Model WHS Laws. Inconsistency between jurisdictions creates unnecessary costs and complexity.

In its submission, the AICD focused its response on key aspects of the proposed industrial manslaughter offence in the NSW WHS Act.

Key points included:

  • Support for the use of existing definitions within the model Work Health and Safety Act 2001 (Model WHS Act) for the purposes of determining who can commit an offence of industrial manslaughter under the NSW WHS Act.
  • Support for the industrial manslaughter offence applying when a duty holder’s conduct causes the death of other persons at the workplace as well as workers.
  • Support for a legal test and fault threshold of ‘gross negligence causing death’ on the part of a duty holder, in line with the recommendation of the Boland Review of the Model WHS Laws and consistent with the majority of jurisdictions that have legislated an industrial manslaughter offence.
  • Support for industrial manslaughter penalties that align with the industrial manslaughter offence penalties under the Model WHS Act.

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