IR Legislation will not save a single life

Thursday 24 August, 2017

Every Queenslander deserves the right to go to work and return to home to their families at the end of the day. As a state, Queensland has come a long way in the last few years with workplace tragedies declining by over a third in the last 8 years as employers, employees and legislators take a collective approach to ensuring that workplace safety is a shared workplace responsibility.

CCIQ and all businesses in the state are fully supportive of any changes to workplace legislation that helps save a single life, however the proposed Industrial Manslaughter provisions to be inserted into the Workplace Health and Safety Act yesterday will not.

CCIQ's General Manager of Advocacy Kate Whittle commented "The Queensland Government have created a new offence within the Work Health and Safety Act of Industrial Manslaughter where business owners are accountable for workplace fatalities. The fact is that they always have been.

 “Creating a new offence has no impact on workplace safety, especially when there is no legal gap as both the Criminal Code and existing Workplace Health and Safety Act contains sufficient provisions to deal with such incidents as it already prosecutes those who have acted in a negligent manner and ensures that they face the full force of the law. 

“What we have actually ended up with now is another tier of legislation in Queensland that creates more work for business yet no greater safety for employees. Under the objects of the Act, Queensland has committed to maintaining and strengthening national harmonisation, any move to create additional excessively punitive charges would be a step away from a national approach.”

The Government’s claim that there was ‘extensive consultation’ in the lead up to the report and legislation amendments is simply false. Interested parties were given 12 days to respond to the discussion paper and the Review Panel did not take formal submissions.

“Due to the rushed and largely opaque process, Queensland business owners will ask themselves: are these amendments tabled the best we could have gotten if greater and more effective consultation with interested parties had taken place?

A complete review of Work Health and Safety Act nationally is due in a matter of months in 2018, why has this government rushed this process through when national resources were soon to be available to assess the framework?

“These proposed laws are part of an election box ticking exercise; they are not about improving safety and there is no evidence to show this new offence will make workplaces safer. The most effective workplace health and safety laws focus on education and prevention, so that risks are minimised and workplaces are as safe as possible.”

“Prevention starts with education and oversight not in punitive penalties.

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