Industrial Manslaughter Legislation

New legislation has recently been passed to keep Tradies safer on site, so what does that mean for employers?


The Queensland Government’s Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment 2017 will mean tougher penalties and potential criminal action (including up to 20 years in prison) against employers who provide unsafe workplaces that lead to the death of staff.


Kingaroy widow Kerry Cameron, whose husband Michael was crushed by an electricity transmission tower at work in March 2012, said she hoped the laws would stop others from suffering through the pain and anguish that her family has endured.


Mrs Cameron said the legislation would hopefully prevent negligent employers from putting their staff in potentially life-threatening situations.


On the day of the accident, Michael Cameron was crushed by a high voltage electricity transmission tower that fell from a crane that was incorrectly fitted with a lock-out bar, which prevents activation of the free-fall mode.


“Nothing will ever compensate me for the loss of my husband’s life, nor will it ever bring him back,” Mrs Cameron said.

“But I hope that the threat of a criminal offence and a hefty fine will prompt employers to put the safety of their workers first.”


Slater and Gordon Senior Lawyer Jason Monro said last year alone, 178 Australians were killed at work.


“We have seen far too many instances of negligent practices across Queensland that have resulted in a death in the workplace,” Mr Monro said.


“These new proposed laws will see the duty holder face a maximum sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment under the Criminal Code.

“The harsher penalties should serve as a warning to employers who choose to cut corners on workplace safety that you cannot hide behind corporate structures to avoid responsibility.”


Provisions to commence:

  1. Requirement for a person conducting a business or undertaking to provide the regulator with a list of Health and Safety Representatives and deputy Health and Safety Representatives for each work group.
  2. Prohibiting enforceable undertakings being accepted for contraventions, or alleged contraventions, of the WHS Act that involve a fatality.
  3. Providing that codes of practice will expire five years after they are approved to allow for more timely review of codes.



For a copy of the Act as passed and for further details on how to keep your site safe, head to the Queensland Legislation website at


Let’s keep safety at the top-of-mind, Tradies!




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