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Kill a worker, go to jail - industrial manslaughter bill to get greenlight

November 28, 2023

Parliament is set to greenlight a game-changer today: kill a worker, go to jail. The Work Health and Safety (Industrial Manslaughter) Amendment Bill, up for passage, means if a business recklessly cuts corners and a worker pays the ultimate price, the responsible party could be looking at 20 years behind bars and a hefty $18 million corporate fine.

Dale Beasley, SA Unions Secretary, doesn't mince words: "For some employers, it's a sick business model—cut corners, risk lives, and pay a pittance if caught. But not anymore."

“Month after month, a South Australian worker dies on the job, and SA Unions have had enough. Workers and their families have fought hard for this change. Our message to bosses is clear, think twice before putting lives on the line," declared Beasley."

"For some big employers, an $18 million fine alone could be just pocket change, so the threat of prison is a game-changer. Workers deserve more than being a line on a balance sheet," Beasley emphasised.

"It's not just about locking up bad bosses; it's about making safety a priority so incidents never happen," Beasley added.

SA Unions are on a mission for workplace safety reform. Beasley stressed, “Safety regulations are almost always written in the aftermath of preventable tragedies. Workers still want a way to speak out to prevent incidents happening in the first place, not just laws to punish after it's too late."

Just a week post the 20th anniversary of the National Asbestos Ban, the approval of this bill underscores a crucial point.

"James Hardie and similar companies were well aware of asbestos dangers for decades. The reprehensible actions of a few executives cost countless lives. Industrial Manslaughter laws will be vital in holding decision-makers accountable for compromising worker safety," said Beasley.

“For years, families experiencing the devastating news that their loved ones were taken from them because of safety shortcuts, and had their grief compounded from knowing their loved ones may never receive justice,” said Andrea Madeley from Voice of Industrial Death.

“Industrial manslaughter acknowledges the gravity of a life lost. We’ve had enough with mere slaps on the wrist – If you compromise safety, the law is coming after you,” said Madeley.

"Our system needs a stronger emphasis on proactively addressing safety to spare other families from enduring the pain we've faced," said Madeley