Issue 23 2021 - More industrial manslaughter laws


The Australian Capital Territory is the latest jurisdiction in Australia to introduce industrial manslaughter laws into its work health and safety legislation. The ACT’s new laws will commence from 11 November 2021.


The Australian Capital Territory has recently passed an amendment to its Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (ACT) with new provisions relating to industrial manslaughter, set to commence from 11 November 2021. Reckless or negligent breaches of health and safety duties that result in death will now be captured by the new industrial manslaughter provisions, carrying penalties of up to 20 years’ imprisonment for an individual (such as an officer of a corporation) and $16.5 million for a body corporate.[1] These amendments replace the current provisions in the Crimes Act 1900 (ACT), which had similar provisions but considerably smaller monetary penalties for bodies corporate.


The ACT now joins Victoria, Queensland, and the Northern Territory who each have industrial manslaughter provisions in their respective work health and safety legislation.[2]


Western Australia’s new Work Health and Safety Act 2020 (WA) also includes industrial manslaughter provisions but is awaiting proclamation before those provisions commence.[3]


What should employers do?

These amendments stress the importance for employers to ensure that they are complying with their health and safety obligations.


Officers and Directors have due diligence obligations that they must take reasonable steps to meet - including keeping up-to-date knowledge on potential risks to health and safety and ensuring that the business has effective processes in place. SafeWork Australia provides some guidance on an officer’s duty on its website.


We can provide information and guidance about your general work health and safety obligations as an employer or officer, which may include your due diligence obligations. If you would like to discuss this, please contact our office.


Require further information/assistance?

If you require further information or advice, please contact your Consultant.

[1] Work Health and Safety Amendment Act 2021 (ACT) s 5.

[2] Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) pt 5A; Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) pt 2A; Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 (NT) pt 2 div 6.

[3] Work Health and Safety Act 2020 (WA) s 2(1)(c); pt 2 div 5 sub-div 2.

EMA Consulting is not a law firm and therefore does not provide legal advice or services. The information contained within this document and associated material is general in nature and should not be relied upon. If you require specific advice on a particular matter, we recommend that you contact EMA Consulting on 08 8203 1700. Subject to the matter at hand, your EMAC Consultant may recommend that you obtain formal legal advice. If formal legal advice is required, upon your written instruction EMAC will brief your matter to a legal practitioner for this purpose. The contents of this document and associated materials do not represent legal advice.

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