Go Directly to Jail - Do Not Pass Go

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Victorian employers could face up to 20 years in jail if tough changes forecast to the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act are passed by parliament.

Victorian Premier Mr Andrews has promised that if re-elected in November’s state election he will amend the OH&S Act, so that if an employer’s negligence causes death – they will be held to account.

Speaking at his party’s annual conference in Melbourne, Mr Andrews said that bosses whose negligence cost workers their lives would also face fines running into the millions of dollars as well as jail sentences under industrial manslaughter laws.

"We’ll make sure these laws extend to staff and beyond.” "They’ll cover a visiting supplier.  A routine maintenance worker, or three innocent people walking down a busy street, on the edge of our city." – referring to the three pedestrians killed in Swanston Street in 2013 when a wall collapsed on passers-by.

Changes to the OH&S Act and Regulations will by default extend to the management of emergencies affecting any workplace. Any employer that now has a demonstrable record of not engaging in the most basic levels of emergency preparedness runs the risk of being swept up in these changes. They may find themselves facing some big fines and jail time if an employee, contractor and even visitor is injured or killed as a result of an ineffective response to an emergency.

This has the capacity to significantly affect workplaces that invites significant numbers of visitors, such as sporting venues, cinemas and shopping centres. Similarly, the sheer number of occupants within any CBD office tower means too, that employers within these facilities need to discuss collective action in response to emergencies to ensure the safety of all occupants. No longer can an employer sit back and leave emergency management to the property manager or continue to evade emergency exercises conducted by the building they inhabit – unless they have a few million dollars and up to 20 years to spare.