Senior company manager first prosecution under new WHS laws
The Australian Capital Territory is the first jurisdiction to charge a senior company manager over the death of a worker in a workplace accident. Under new workplace health and safety legislation, the offence now carries a maximum penalty of $1.5 million with a maximum fine of $300,000 for any individual officer of a company found guilty under the law.
In this instance a contractor was electrocuted while tipping the trailer of his truck to offload gravel in Turner, a central suburb of Canberra. The 48 year old contractor was killed when the trailer came into contact with overhanging power lines. Investigators later found that the power lines were an obvious hazard at the site of contractor’s death. ACT Work Safety Commissioner, Mark McCabe commented in the Canberra Times that had a proper risk assessment been carried out, the location of the dump could have been located across the road, well out of reach of power lines and danger.
It is very clear that this new health and safety legislation is intended to send a strong message of warning to senior officers of companies across all industries. WorkCover now considers managers and other company officials directly responsible for the workplace health and safety of their employees.
Also even though the organisation went into involuntary liquidation sometime after the incident they were still liable. In the past, companies that would go into liquidation were dissolved prior to a case reaching court preventing successful prosecutions. On this occasion a senior officer will face charges, regardless of their liquidation.
If you require any further information about the new legislation and how it affects you, please contact us today for more information.
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