New safety laws – Fines up to $10mil
Following a review conducted in the aftermath of the Gold Coast theme park tragedy last October, the Queensland government is proposing new safety laws, including a new offence category, namely ‘Industrial Manslaughter’.
With fines up to $10 million for corporations and 20 years’ imprisonment for an individual, there are now more reasons than ever to have a look at what precautionary steps could be taken in your business.
Don’t cut corners
In a recent statement, Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace, said the new laws “will send a clear message about societal expectations around safety in
the workplace”. And, “Our harsher penalties will serve as a deterrent to employers who are tempted to cut corners when it comes to safety in the workplace”. You can read the full media statement here
It’s important to understand that safety laws are not seeking to punish you for accidents as such. Instead, the spotlight is on unsafe work procedures, or in other words, failure to take reasonable precautionary measures to eliminate or minimise risks in your workplace.
Proactive vs hindsight
If an accident occurs and if you haven’t taken precautionary steps such as implementing safe work systems, maintaining plant and equipment, training and supervision, you are left with no defence and at the mercy of the authorities.
Whilst it is more common for authorities to get involved after an accident occurs, it is critical to understand even the most serious category of safety breach does not require anyone to get injured.
The best defence from safety related prosecution is prevention, which is guaranteed to save you far more time and money than litigation, and enable you to sleep at night.
Top tips to protect you and your organisation
- Think carefully and practically about your work activities and ask yourself: What are the risks associated with our activities? Do we effectively control those risks? Are our work systems safe?
- Ensure your safety induction training is strong and effective, and that you provide frequent refresher training. Ensure all workers, even casual temporary employees, complete the training and keep records of this training.
- Make sure you keep a detailed register of servicing, maintenance and inspections of your plant and equipment in accordance with Australian Standards and manufacturer directions.
- Conduct frequent internal inspections and reviews and supplement this with occasional external audits to minimise your exposure to liability.
If you require further information or help with this important area of management, feel free to Contact us .