New laws now in effect in Victoria, with multimillion dollar fines for negligent employers

New laws now in effect in Victoria, with multimillion dollar fines for negligent employers

by Freya Lucas

July 01, 2020

Negligent Victorian employers now face fines of up to $16.5 million, and jail terms of up to 25 years, should they fail to ensure their employees are protected from workplace incidents resulting in death, including fatalities that occur on the road while working, and suicides attributable to a workplace health and safety failure. 


Victorian Minister for Workplace Safety, Jill Hennessy, said the new laws send a clear message to employers that putting lives at risk in the workplace will not be tolerated.


“If an employer’s negligence costs someone their life, they will be prosecuted and may go to jail – that’s now the law” Ms Hennessy said, adding that “too many Victorians have had their lives tragically cut short after simply going to work”, with 25 people across the Victoria tragically losing their lives in workplace incidents so far this year.


The new offence of workplace manslaughter will be investigated by WorkSafe Victoria, using their powers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.


The offence applies to employers, self-employed people and ‘officers’ of the employer. It also applies when an employer’s negligent conduct causes the death of a member of the public.


Through the expansion of the criteria that defines a workplace death, more families will be able to access WorkSafe family support services following the death of a loved one at work and broader reporting will bring increased focus to workplace health and safety issues.


The laws are supported by a $10 million package to improve investigation and enforcement of workplace safety laws, including a specialist WorkSafe team to lead investigations and prosecutions, and two additional WorkSafe Victoria Family Liaison Officers to give families more support.


A Workplace Incidents Consultative Committee will be established to develop further reforms to provide support to those affected by workplace fatalities and serious incidents. This will be supported with $4 million in funding and include people who have lost a family member at work or have suffered a serious workplace injury or illness.


Further information about the new laws is available here