In June 2020, the Work Health and Safety Experts provided feedback to the Acting Director General of Safety Regulation for the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (‘DMIRS’). Feedback was sought by leading organisations in the work health and safety sector regarding the introduction of a raft of potential amendments outlined in the Work Health and Safety Bill 2019 (WA).
The Work Health and Safety Experts firmly believe that the way the two separate criminal charges for industrial manslaughter will cause significant detriment across Western Australia businesses. The specific feedback provided is outlined below:
The Work Health and Safety Experts do not support the proposed introduction of industrial manslaughter. The ‘crime’ industrial manslaughter charge would require a significant level of individual culpability and evidentiary burden of proof. Similar to the introduction of industrial manslaughter within the Crimes Act of the ACT in 2003, in the majority of cases the State would realistically not be able to be established beyond reasonable doubt. The ‘simple’ charge effectively infringes on the criminal law requirements for the standards of evidence within criminal law proceedings by allowing a weaker case by the Department of Public Prosecutions to be circumvented away from c 30A and proceed under c 30B of the Bill. In addition, the varying imprisonment and financial penalties between both potential charges under Subdivision 2 conveys to the public the dollar value of human life is dependent on the quality of evidence and strength of the case of the prosecution by the State. The insertion of the clauses would appear to be an attempt at a cash grab by the State Government to boost the bottom line of the balance sheet under the guise of improving work health and safety.
The Bill is expected to be receive assent shortly, however, it is unknown whether provisions for industrial manslaughter will remain included.