Industrial manslaughter is criminalised in South Australia

Posted on December 01, 2023

The Work Health and Safety (Industrial Manslaughter) Amendment Bill 2023 was passed by the South Australian parliament on 29 November 2023. It's expected that the new law will commence on 1 July 2024.

Industrial manslaughter is now a criminal offence in South Australia. This brings South Australia into line with other jurisdictions that have made industrial manslaughter a crime, including Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland, NT and ACT.

Individuals will face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison while organisations can be fined up to $18 million if found guilty.

The offence will apply when a person has been either reckless or grossly negligent in conduct which breaches a work, health and safety duty under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) (WHS Act), and which results in the death of an individual.

The offence will apply to both a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) and officers. This recognises that responsibility for breaches of the WHS Act can occur at various levels within an organisation.

Importantly, industrial manslaughter offences will not be subject to the two-year statute of limitation which currently applies for other breaches under the WHS Act. This recognises the additional complexity of investigating this type of offence.

The passing of this legislation is a timely reminder to employers to ensure that they have robust work, health and safety measures in place in the workplace. Employers should also ensure that everyone in the workplace is aware of their health and safety duties and obligations.

Please contact our workplace relations and health and safety team if you require any assistance.

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