13 min read

Industrial manslaughter

Last updated July 2024

This chapter examines the industrial manslaughter laws operating in Australia.

What is industrial manslaughter?

Definition: Industrial Manslaughter

Industrial manslaughter is a criminal offence where an individual or organisation causes the death of a person in circumstances where they owed a duty of care to the person and were criminally negligent in breaching that duty. The duty-holder must have fallen short of the standard of care that would have been taken by a reasonable person in the circumstances.

All jurisdictions in Australia currently have an offence under health and safety legislation to punish a duty-holder who recklessly, and without reasonable excuse, exposes an individual to a risk of death or serious injury or illness. In jurisdictions under the Work Health and Safety Act (WHS Act), this is known as a Category 1 offence.

Some jurisdictions also have a criminal offence of industrial manslaughter. The industrial manslaughter laws are either part of the health and safety laws or contained in the Criminal Code laws, such as the Crimes Act.