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The Australian State of Victoria Enacts Law on Industrial Manslaughter

The Australian State of Victoria Enacts Law on Industrial Manslaughter


The new law of State of Victoria incriminates businesses and officers whose negligent conduct leads to incidence of workplace death and they shall be guilty of workplace manslaughter. The partnership concern, corporate entities and associations shall be liable for fines of upto AU$ 16.5 million while sole traders and officers shall face 20 years of gaol time.

The objective behind this new law due to incident that occurred in Queensland, Brisbane where company viz. Auto Recycling Pty Ltd was charged with industrial manslaughter in accident of a worker who was killed by a reversing forklift yard due to alleged failure to separate pedestrians and mobile plant.

The State of Victoria which enforced Industrial Manslaughter Law on November 26th, 2019 has been source of inspiration for other Australian states as well. First, state after Victoria is the Northern Territory industrial manslaughter law that was enacted on November 27th 2019.  Following the lead, Queensland announced as well that it would legislate industrial manslaughter offences within the framework of mining specific safety laws and Western Australia recently tabled the Work Health and Safety Bill 2019 that has in its fold includes industrial manslaughter offences.

Victorian Parliament enacted the Workplace Safety Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter) Bill 2019 and made the employer guilty of workplace manslaughter when:

  1. involve in a negligent conduct;
  2. conduct is a breach of an OHS duty owed to another person;
  3. conduct causes the death of the employee or any other person;

The Victorian Law lays down that the offence applies to any person deemed to be an officer under the Corporations Act 2001 which includes directors, secretaries and any person who has significant hold on entity’s business or finances.

The Victorian government in Statement of Objective and Purpose while introducing the Bill stated that "the purpose of the workplace manslaughter law is to hold those with the power and resources liable to improve safety for the employers". The objective is for the businesses assuring right controls and equipment are in effect therefore ensuring improving safety in all industries.