ACTU: International Workers’ Memorial Day - Make Company Directors Personally Liable for Workplace Deaths

Company Directors would be made personally liable for Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) fines resulting from workplace death, even if they restructure their business to avoid payment.

The ACTU calls on the government to strengthen national OHS laws and make directors personally fined and/or jailed for up to 20 years to ensure companies cannot restructure to avoid paying fines as a result of negligent conduct.

Forty six Australian workers have died at work this year, but there is no provision in OHS laws to for directors to be held personally accountable if those deaths are a result of company negligence.

In Australia, the average fine for a workplace fatality is around $100,000, which would equate to a fraction of the profit of large businesses making billions of dollars a year.

These laws would help strengthen workplace safety.

With International Workers’ Memorial Day taking place tomorrow to commemorate people killed at work, the ACTU calls on the Abbott Government to adopt stronger laws to protect the lives of millions Australians at work.

ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick said that strengthening OHS laws to make negligent companies and individual directors liable would send a clear message to employers that they must ensure people are safe at work.

“Forty six Australians have died at work in the past year because their employer didn’t take their safety at work seriously enough – we need to change that," Borowick said.

“Current laws need to be strengthened so that companies and company directors are liable for our safety at work.’’