Industrial manslaughter to be criminalised in South Australia

14 December 2023

The South Australian Parliament has passed the Work Health and Safety (Industrial Manslaughter) Amendment Bill 2023 (Bill).

The Bill will amend the Work, Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) (WHS Act) to criminalise industrial manslaughter in South Australia.

Under the new laws, a person (being a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) or an officer of a PCBU) commits an ‘industrial manslaughter offence’ if:

  • The person has a health and safety duty; and
  • The person engages in conduct that breaches that duty; and
  • The conduct causes the death of an individual to whom that duty is owed (Note: conduct causes the death of an individual if it ‘substantially contributes’ to the death); and
  • The person:
    • Engages in conduct with “gross negligence”; or
    • Is “reckless” as to the risk to an individual of death or serious injury or illness.

There will be a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment imposed in the case of an offence committed by an individual and a maximum monetary penalty of $18,000,000.00 in the case of an offence committed by a body corporate.

The new laws do not alter existing work health and safety obligations in the WHS Act but instead impose significant new penalties on PCBUs and officers whose conduct causes the death of an individual to whom they owed a health and safety duty (including workers and other persons) by conduct that amounts to “gross negligence” or is “reckless” as to the risk of death or serious injury to that person.

On the passing of the Bill, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector Hon Kyam Maher MLC said:

While tragic workplace incidents do occur from time to time, our industrial manslaughter laws recognise it is not an accident when people deliberately cut corners and place worker’s lives at risk. It is a crime and it will be treated like one.’

‘This legislation sends a clear message to any dodgy operators that are reckless or grossly negligent with their workers’ health and safety that they will be held to account.’[1]

The new industrial manslaughter offences will commence on a date to be fixed by proclamation.

[1] Quotes attributable to the Hon Kyam Maher MLC, full statement available from:
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