There is a fatal injury in the workplace every 20 days, on average, in Western Australia – a statistic that has remained tragically stable over the last 18 years. Culpable employers must be held responsible for preventable deaths. It is currently very difficult to prosecute a company under the Criminal Code for manslaughter.
To improve workers’ safety, the onus must be placed on companies and senior officers. Alison’s Criminal Code Amendment (Industrial Manslaughter) Bill 2017, which is currently before the Parliament, proposes to shift responsibility from the company level, to the personal. Senior managers could be held directly responsible if it can be shown that they made a decision which knowingly created an unsafe workplace; and it resulted in a death. Importantly, the employer could then be convicted of a criminal offence. Penalties would reflect those currently available for manslaughter – up to life imprisonment.
The sudden death of a loved one is absolutely devastating; and the loss of a family member in a workplace accident adds to the complexity of the grieving process. Too many WA families have had to endure this struggle.
No worker’s life should be sacrificed in the pursuit of profit.