Tomorrow the South Australian Labor Government will introduce 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.
Beasley continued, "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."
"This isn't about just wanting to lock up bad bosses, it's about employers taking safety seriously and ensuring that incidents don't happen to begin with."
SA Unions are pursuing a legislative reform agenda to make our workplace health and safety system more proactive.
"Prosecuting employers who injure and kill workers is an important part of the system, but that alone makes the jurisdiction inherently reactive, it can't undo the unthinkable," said Beasley.
Beasley highlighted the need for greater proactive mechanism of addressing workplace risk; "Workers need standing to prevent incidents, rather than just waiting to punish after the unthinkable happens."