Stringent New Workplace Safety Laws
The new laws introduced by the Albanese Labor Government will impose stricter penalties on employers who subject their employees to hazardous conditions in the workplace. Additionally, businesses will no longer be able to rely on their insurance to cover such penalties, encouraging them to take their work health and safety obligations more seriously.
The Work Health and Safety Amendment Bill 2023 has been passed by the Federal Parliament, marking a significant step towards improving workplace safety. Despite this, the fact that 169 workers were fatally injured at work last year, and 18 workers have already died in the first two months of this year, highlights the need for greater attention to be paid to workplace safety.
While workplace deaths are preventable, each one represents a tragic loss of life and a devastating blow to families, friends, and colleagues. The new laws expand the most serious offence under the Commonwealth's work health and safety laws to include negligence, making it easier to secure convictions against reckless and grossly negligent employers. Furthermore, the use of insurance to cover financial penalties incurred for WHS fines will now be prohibited, ensuring that penalties serve as a proper deterrent rather than a mere cost of doing business.
These new laws are an important step in implementing the recommendations of the Boland Review of the model work health and safety laws, which were largely ignored by the previous Liberal and National Government. In addition to this, the Government has secured support from the states and territories to consider a ban on dangerous engineered stone and to strengthen industrial manslaughter laws.
While there is still much more to be done to make Australian workplaces safer, the Albanese Government is committed to delivering real change for all Australian workers.