17 February 2021
In the NSW Parliament this week, Labor has given notice it will reintroduce legislation to create a new industrial manslaughter offence with higher penalties including jail time, as part of major reforms to the State’s workplace safety laws.
Labor Leader in the Legislative Council and Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations, Adam Searle MLC, said rogue companies must be held accountable for workplace deaths.
“One death is one too many, and every worker should come home safely. It is unacceptable that NSW has the highest number of workplace fatalities in Australia,” 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” — Adam Searle MLC, Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations
The tragic death of Christopher Cassiniti illustrates the need for this new law. Christopher Cassaniti was crushed to death in a workplace accident in Sydney’s north-west in April 2019.
The judge hearing the case in December 2020 said the offence was of the ‘utmost severity’, and given the circumstances ‘almost certain to occur’. He added that the steps to avoid the risk were ‘simple and inexpensive’.
NSW Labor had put forward changes to the state’s workplace safety laws in December 2019 following a spate of workplace fatalities, but the proposal was defeated in a close 19-18 vote in the Legislative Council in June 2020.