Important changes to workplace manslaughter laws will soon come into effect in Victoria. It is important that those operating in the state understand their new responsibilities.
The state parliament in Victoria passed the Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter and other matters) in November 2019. Soon, these new laws will come into effect and it is vitally important that those operating and owning workplaces understand their responsibilities under the new legislative framework.
Workplace manslaughter is generally a charged levelled when workplace duties of care have been disregarded consciously & voluntarily, resulting in serious injury, serious illness or death.
Workplace manslaughter charges stem from acts of voluntary and deliberate, “negligent” conduct. This can come in a variety of forms, however it is generally defined as a great falling short of the standard of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances and involves a high risk of death, serious injury or serious illness.
This test is long-established in common law principles in Victoria.
Negligent conduct can occur when a person responsible does not adequately manage, control or supervise their employees. It can also occur when a person responsible does not take reasonable action to fix a dangerous situation in circumstances where failing to do so many result in a high risk of death, serious injury or serious illness.
Individual persons, a body corporate, an unincorporated body, associations or a partnership, including government entities and officers of all these entities can owe workers and employees a duty of care to ensure their health and safety depending on the circumstances of their work. This duty of care also extends to any other person in the workplace, including visitors and contractors.
It is important that anyone responsible for workers, contractors, and site visitors going into high risk areas be made aware of their duties of care to those people, and work to ensure that safety considerations are never compromised.
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