Today the South Australian Labor Government has introduced industrial manslaughter legislation to ensure that if you kill a worker, you go to jail.
Under the Work Health and Safety (Industrial Manslaughter) Amendment Bill, if a business is found to have been grossly negligent or recklessly cut corners on safety and a worker dies on the job, the individual responsible faces up to 20 years imprisonment and a corporation faces $18 Million in fines.
"Every month a South Australian worker loses their life on the job and for some firms, it's become their business model to cut corners on safety, because even if caught, it costs a lot less than just making their workplaces safe in the first place." said Dale Beasley, SA Unions Secretary.
"Unions have been loudly fighting to change this, and we're glad to see this government show leadership where the previous Liberal government refused to act," said Beasley. "The threat of a prison sentence is important, because even a fine of$18 Million could be seen as little more than a speeding fine on a multi-billion dollar project. Workers and their families need to know that their lives are more than just a line on a balance sheet," he added.
The Maritime Union of Australia's South Australia Branch Secretary, Brett Larkin, welcomed the development and explained that workers in waterfront and seafaring industries who face special risks and dangers at work will be especially relieved to see action being taken.
“Kill a worker, Go to jail. We need laws like this to help prevent bad decisions from rogue employers where there is more at stake for them than just a financial risk which they can incorporate into their bottom line," Mr Larkin said.
SA Unions are pursuing a legislative reform agenda to make our workplace health and safety system more proactive.
“The MUA have been watching this closely and working with the State Government to ensure their election promise is upheld. The former Liberal State Government were happy to sit by and do nothing while Australian workers were losing and continue to lose their lives at work. We hope this law is supported and works as a preventative measure to hold bosses to account and improve safe systems of work. If the new laws are never needed because workers are safer at work than before, then the reforms will have been a success. Unfortunately we know this won’t be the silver bullet but is a step in the right direction towards making sure all workers return home safely," Mr Larkin added.