Queensland’s First Industrial Manslaughter Jailing

On Friday, 25 March 2022 a Gympie business owner was found guilty of industrial manslaughter and sentenced to a five year jail term (with 18 months to be served until the remaining period is suspended).

This is the first successful prosecution of an individual since this offence was brought into Queensland's statute books in 2017. 

A volunteer worker suffered fatal injuries after a generator fell from the tines of a forklift and struck him. The owner was charged as an individual conducting his business, and not charged as a director or other form of 'officer'. 

The prosecutor argued that while it was not expected that a small business would have sophisticated safety systems, there was an absence of any such systems in this instance.

The jury found that the volunteer was a 'worker' within the business, and had died in the course of carrying out work for that business, and that owners 'conduct' (including acts and omissions) in causing the death was negligent.

What we learn from this:

The duties of individuals owed under work health and safety laws must be taken seriously. 
Ensure work health and safety systems are in place and appropriate for the work being performed. 
Volunteers are considered to be workers for the purposes of workplace health and safety legislation and must be protected.
Make sure you have systems in place to meet your obligations for compliance with work health and safety laws. 

If you need advice or assistance contact ASIAL’s Industrial Relations Advisor – [email protected]