NSW to introduce Australia’s strongest industrial manslaughter laws

Patrizia Cassaniti reflects on her son Christopher’s death at work

A tribute to Christopher Cassaniti, who died in a scaffolding accident in 2019.

On Monday 3 June, unions and working people from a range of sectors gathered in Sydney’s Martin Place to call for the introduction of industrial manslaughter laws. On average, one person a week dies at work in NSW.

To date, NSW is the only mainland state without lifesaving industrial manslaughter laws. After pressure from unions, in late 2023, the NSW government announced it would introduce an offence of industrial manslaughter into the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) during the first half of 2024.

Addressing the rally, NSW Minister for Industrial Relations Sophie Cotsis emphasised the urgent need for workplace safety and made a welcome announcement.

“Tomorrow the Minns Labor government will introduce legislation to make industrial manslaughter an offence,” Minister Cotsis said.

“They will be the strongest laws in Australia with a maximum of 25 years jail and fines of up to $20 million for those corporations who do the wrong thing. We want to make sure that workers go to work and come home safely to their loved ones.”

Greens MP Abigail Boyd and MP Jeremy Buckingham both offered their support as the law goes to the Legislative Council for voting.

What is industrial manslaughter?

Industrial manslaughter occurs when a person who has a health and safety duty engages in conduct contrary to that duty and therefore causes the death of an employee or other person to which they owe the duty.

IEU welcomes new legislation

The Independent Education Union of Australia NSW/ACT Branch has been participating in the NSW government and SafeWork NSW consultations through Unions NSW to discuss the scope and extent of the legislation and assist in its successful passage through parliament.

The NSW government’s commitment to introducing industrial manslaughter into WHS legislation is a win for all working people in NSW and a step towards ensuring accountability for deaths that occur at work or because of work.

IEU members attend the rally

Emma Ford
Industrial Officer
Katie Camarena