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Industrial Manslaughter: will law change save men’s lives?

A review into Australia’s Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) laws has called for the introduction of Industrial Manslaughter laws. As 93% of people who die at work are male, such a move would primarily focus on protecting the health and safety of men at work.  

The call for the introduction of a law on Industrial Manslaughter is one of 34 recommendation that have been handed down by the Boland review of model WHS legislation.

The review was commissioned by WHS ministers in 2018 through Safe Work Australia, who appointed the independent reviewer, Ms Marie Boland, to conduct the review. In particular, Ms Boland’s review explored:

  • what is working and why
  • will it continue to work in the future
  • what doesn’t work and why, and
  • what we could do to make it work.

The recommendation has been welcomed by the ACTU’s Assistant Secretary Liam O’Brien, who said:

“Everyone should come home safe from work, but every week four people are killed in their workplace in Australia.

 “Australians want urgent action to prevent more workplace deaths. States, territories and the commonwealth need to act to ensure that there are real deterrents in place which will force employers to make sure workplaces are safe.

A recent poll conducted for ACTU by ReachTel found a “significant majority of the Australian population support the introduction of industrial manslaughter laws”.  According to the poll:

  • 80.1% want to see significant financial penalties for employers who don’t manage psychological hazards such as bullying and stress.
  • 62.5% believe that unions are important to improving workplace health and safety.
  • Of that group, 88% believe that laws should be strengthened to help workers stay safe and work and allow unions to do the job of enforcing workplace safety.

Will law change save men’s lives?

Every two days in Australia, a man will go to work and never come home. That’s the stark reality behind the most recent Government statistics. In 2017, 190 workers were killed at work and 93 per cent (176 of the 190 fatalities) of those workers were men.

According to O’ Brien, the introduction of Industrial Manslaughter laws across Australia is a move that could potentially save men’s lives. He said:  

 “Industrial Manslaughter is not just important because it will provide an avenue to true justice for the families of those people killed at work, but because it will force cultural change that will hopefully lead to fewer deaths at work.”

Who's making a difference for men?

There are a number of organisations around Australia that focus on improving the lives and health of workers in male dominated industries. This include:

If you know of other projects working to improves men's health at work (including projects focused on male-dominated industries) please contact us at: [email protected]




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