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Changes to WHS Legislation – what does this mean for you?

Changes to WHS Legislation

WHSQ release their Best Practice Review Report and introduce a new WHS offence for Industrial Manslaughter.

The new Law sits above the 3 existing Categories of workplace offences that already exist in the current legislation. This new Law was created to deal with failures that cause fatalities, to meet the expectations of the families affected and to provide a strong deterrent for those who turn a blind eye to safety issues in the workplace.

Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a person without the intention of causing the death or grievous bodily harm of the person. The maximum penalty for the new offence is 20 years imprisonment for an individual, with a maximum fine of $10 million for a corporate offender.

Late last year, the Honourable Grace Grace MP, Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, commissioned a review into best practice for Workplace Health and Safety Qld (WHSQ). This was following the tragic fatalities at Dreamworld and at the Eagle Farm worksite in 2016, where 2 workers were crushed to death by a falling concrete slab.

The review was conducted with reference to all of WHSQ’s functions including inspections, investigations, prosecutions, enforceable undertakings, research, strategy and policy development, education and communication campaigns.  A more detailed list can be read here on the Queensland Government website.

The work took 4 months to complete and was carried out by Mr Tim Lyons an independent reviewer, engaged for the review.  The Final report was released in July 2017 and included 58 recommendations, nearly all relating to suggested operational improvements, or Policy changes for WHSQ or the WHS Board.  Recommendations were also put forward surrounding the licencing framework and the function of both the RTO’s and the high risk work assessors ensuring the competency of licenced operators.

The Best Practice Review Report can be read here.  Best practice review of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland final report (PDF, 2237.21 KB).

All but 2 of the recommendations of the report were supported by Government.  These 2 recommendations were referred to the WHS Board for further consideration.

Following the review, on 22nd August 2017 the Queensland Government issued a media statement, introducing an amendment bill to Parliament to implement changes to operational powers and policy arising from the recommendations, including the creation of a new WHS offence entitled “industrial manslaughter”.

On 23 October 2017, the Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2017 (the amendment Act) was passed by Parliament

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