New legislation came into effect in Queensland on 1 July 2020 which extends the offence of industrial manslaughter to the resource sector, bringing into focus the conduct of employers and senior officers.
The Mineral and Energy Resources and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020 was created in response to the increase of safety incidents in the resource sector. It introduces the offence of industrial manslaughter through amendments to the following pieces of legislation:-
- Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999;
- Explosives Act 1999;
- Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999; and
- Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004.
The amendments mirror the existing Queensland industrial manslaughter offence under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
Employers or their senior officers, including executive officers who take part in the company’s management, may be found to commit an offence when their conduct causes a workplace death, or they are negligent about causing the death.
The maximum penalty for an individual found guilty of industrial manslaughter is 20 years imprisonment and companies can face up to 100,000 penalty units which currently equates to a fine of more than $13 million.
We recommend that employers review their training for those who may be caught by the provisions as well as review their risks, policies, procedures and insurance.