Penalty for teens death disgraceful: Greens

Greens spokesperson for Worker Safety and Industrial Relations  the Hon Alison Xamon MLC is absolutely outraged by the inadequacy of the $38 000 fine meted out to Valmont WA  today for their part in the death of teenage construction worker Wesley Ballantine.

“It defies belief that Valmont WA received this woeful penalty even after admitting they were aware of the dangers that led to the death of teenage construction worker Wesley Ballantine.

“I am nothing short of disgusted by this result – it demonstrates a system that fails to adequately hold employers to account for the lives of their employees and precisely why urgent reform of offences and penalties following workplace deaths is necessary,” Ms Xamon said.

“I call on the Government to take immediate action to increase penalties and pursue industrial manslaughter laws.

“Ms Xamon has been supportive of calls from Wesley Ballantine’s mother, Regan Ballantine, to improve worker safety laws.

“It has been two and half years since Wesley died, and since then Ms Ballantine has fought tirelessly to ensure other families do not suffer as she has.  The penalty handed out today is in no way commensurate with the utmost seriousness of someone losing their life due to an unsafe workplace,” she said.

“Wesley was a 17 year old young man who should have had his whole life ahead of him.  He was Regan’s only child.

“Losing a family member to a fatal accident in the workplace adds to the complexity of the grieving process it is therefore vital that we do all we can to reduce families’ burden as far as possible.  There are far too many families that have gone through the same harrowing struggle for justice that Regan Ballantine has endured.

Ms Xamon said her industrial manslaughter bill, which is currently before the Parliament awaiting debate, would make senior managers personally responsible if they made a decision, which knowingly created an unsafe workplace, and where that decision led to a death.

She said by placing the onus on companies and senior officers, workers’ safety could be improved.

“Furthermore, It is imperative that Industrial Manslaughter is contained in the Criminal Code rather than in occupational safety and health legislation.  Industrial manslaughter must be treated like any other form of manslaughter. 

“Workplace laws should be fair and be effective at protecting all workers from unsafe conditions,” Ms Xamon said.