20 August 2020
Labor is demanding the Government support the creation of a new industrial manslaughter offence with tougher penalties, including jail time, after another workplace accident in Gosford.
The call comes as the safety of worksites across NSW is again called into question. The incident yesterday saw heavy winds bring down metal scaffolding at a Gosford construction site, injuring a female pedestrian and damaging eight cars.
Labor proposed the changes to the State’s workplace safety laws late last year following a spate of tragic workplace fatalities and injuries in NSW, including the death of 18-year-old apprentice Christopher Cassaniti in April.
In addition to the creation of a new industrial manslaughter offence, Labor is committed to implementing reforms known as “Christopher’s Law” (see details, below).
But the Liberals and Nationals blocked the reforms in NSW Parliament in June.
The Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations Adam Searle said Labor will fight to keep workers safe.
“Employers must be accountable when their negligence leads to a worker’s death. Right across NSW, workers’ lives are at risk – but Gladys Berejiklian is doing absolutely nothing about it,” Mr Searle said.
“It is clear the current laws are failing and a major overhaul of safety standards is needed, as well as increased enforcement of those standards. I am urging the Government to reconsider Labor’s proposed reforms.” — Adam Searle MLC, Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations
The Member for Gosford Liesl Tesch, who has previously been an ambassador for WorkCover NSW, said it’s critical not to be complacent about safety.
“For too long, the system has fostered a culture of taking risks and cutting corners, especially in the construction industry. The laws and culture need to change,” Ms Tesch said.
“These reforms are about ensuring everyone comes home safe. One death is too many. The Government needs to act.”
LABOR’S KEY CHANGES:
- The creation of an industrial manslaughter offence in the Work Safety Act 2011 (NSW) with significant fines for businesses and their senior officers, with the possibility of up to 25 years’ jail for senior officers;
- The re-establishment of an Industrial Court in NSW, in which all work safety prosecutions would be brought, including cases of industrial manslaughter;
- Conferring new mechanisms to enforce rights and responsibilities that currently exist in work safety laws on the Industrial Relations Commission;
- Ensuring workers and their representatives can enforce workplace safety laws, including obligations on employers and insurers for work safety, through the IRC;
- Ensuring the highest safety standards for all successful tenderers for government contracts.
- Ensure all Safety Officers that are appointed to large scale construction sites are independent and not employees of the builder, so there is no incentive to turn a blind eye to an unsafe situation;
- Bring in third party valuers and estimators to check all bids and tenders on large scale construction, to eliminate poor construction practices due to cost cutting and time constraints;
- Ensure the white card cannot be obtained online, but is only available after an approved TAFE course or a similar approved course;
- Require apprentices to wear a different coloured Safety hardhat, so they are better able to be recognised and removed from inappropriate or unsafe situations;
- Require all supervisory personnel to complete a full Health and Safety Representative Course or a Cert IV in WHS, so they are more aware of the consequences of unsafe work practices.