Industrial Manslaughter charge announced, raising awareness of employer workplace obligations

On Friday 25 October, it was announced that Queensland’s Work Health and Safety Prosecutor had commenced prosecution proceedings against a Brisbane-based employer following the death of an employee on the worksite in May 2019. This is the first industrial manslaughter prosecution launched in Queensland following the introduction of this offence in October 2017.

The particular incident in question occurred when a worker was tragically killed after being struck by a reversing forklift at a wrecking yard in Brisbane’s south-west. The prosecution has pursued the highest possible charge as they believe that the employer recklessly and negligently caused the death of their worker by failing to effectively separate pedestrians from mobile plant, and failing to effectively supervise workers, including the operators of mobile plant.

What you need to know – Industrial Manslaughter.

Industrial manslaughter provisions commenced in Queensland on 23 October 2017.

The provisions make it an offence for a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), to negligently cause the death of a worker. A PCBU can be a sole trader, a partnership, company, unincorporated association or government department.

Provisions were incorporated into the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act), Electrical Safety Act 2002 (ES Act), and Safety in Recreational Water Activities Act 2011 (SRWA Act).

The offence applies if:

  • “a worker dies, or is injured and later dies, in the course of carrying out work for the business or undertaking (including during a work break); and
  • the PCBU’s, or senior officer’s, conduct cause the death of the worker (i.e. the action or inaction of the PCBU, or senior officer, substantially contributes to the death); and
  • the PCBU, or senior officer, is negligent about causing the death of the worker (i.e. the person’s action or inaction departs so far from the standard care required).” Source: WorkSafe Qld.

How Masula Compliance can support businesses.

With more than 44 years’ combined industry experience the Masula Compliance team provide comprehensive work health and safety advice, implementation, integration and support; partnering with businesses to meet and manage their risk and compliance.

Investing in a good Work Health and Safety program in your workplace will:

  • Protect your employees from injury or harm
  • Identify and minimise or eliminate risks and hazards
  • Reduce staff absenteeism and sick leave
  • Reduce workers’ compensation claims
  • Improve employee engagement and operational efficiency
  • Increase cost savings and improve business performance

Book a review for your site.

We can undertake a review of your workplace and site requirements. If you are operating mobile plant, we recommend you have a traffic management plan that takes into account the risks associated with the movement of people and plant.