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NT executives can face life imprisonment under new industrial manslaughter laws

The NT government has said it will introduce industrial manslaughter laws in the state within one year.

Under these new laws, company officers found guilty of conduct that negligently or recklessly causes the death of a worker can face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, while body corporates involved in the same offence can be fined up to $10 million.

Following an independent review of the territory’s workplace health and safety laws, the NT government has supported, or in-principle supported, 23 of the review’s 27 recommendations.

The author of the review, former ACTU Assistant Secretary Tim Lyons, said that Territorians face far higher workplace death rates than any other Australian jurisdiction.

“Recommendations such as improving the visibility and performance of NT WorkSafe and the deterrent effects of introducing industrial manslaughter legislation are important steps towards dealing with this situation,” he said.

NT Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Natasha Fyles said in a media release that the NT government will implement a number of the supported recommendations within one to five years, including:

  • creating a new offence of industrial manslaughter with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment for an individual or a fine of up to $10M for a body corporate;
  • formalising an Investigations Unit within the NT WorkSafe Inspectorate to focus on investigating serious incidents and fatalities;
  • working with the Work Health and Safety Advisory Council and Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Advisory Council to improve the support offered to families of victims of workplace incidents;
  • strengthening approval processes and communication around enforceable undertakings; and
  • completing a review of NT WorkSafe’s decision making and development processes around the publication of Safety Alerts following serious incidents.
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