NSW Government proposes to introduce industrial manslaughter offence

23 May 2024

The New South Wales Government has announced that it will consider criminalising industrial manslaughter to bring New South Wales into line with other state and federal jurisdictions.

The New South Wales (NSW) Government has recently announced that it is considering introducing an industrial manslaughter offence as part of a broader review of the state’s workplace safety laws under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW).

The NSW Government has released a consultation paper and invited submissions on the proposed industrial manslaughter offence. By way of its consultation paper, the NSW Government has advised it is particularly seeking feedback on the test that should be applied to establish if an industrial manslaughter offence has been committed, and the relevant penalties that companies and individuals ought to be subject to if found guilty of the offence.

Under the proposal, the NSW Government is considering lengthy prison sentences of up to 20 years for individuals and a maximum penalty of $18 million for corporations. The proposed offence of industrial manslaughter does not change the nature of the safety duties owed by employers or its officers, however the proposed significant penalties create a strong deterrent for companies and individuals who may be taking risks when it comes to employee safety.

If introduced, Tasmania will be the only remaining Australian jurisdiction without industrial manslaughter legislation.1

1 The offence of industrial manslaughter will come into effect in the Commonwealth and South Australian jurisdictions on 1 July 2024.

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