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Further Work Health and Safety changes imminent for Queensland

06 June 2024

Further WHS changes are on the horizon in Queensland with a new Bill introduced to parliament which broadens industrial manslaughter laws, adding applicability to others (non-workers) and implementing tougher penalties. The Bill also includes changes to Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) and WHS Permit Holders powers. The Bill follows the passing of the Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2024 (Qld) (WHS Amendment Act) which introduced significant amendments to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, including: prohibiting insurance for WHS penalties, greater HSR powers and clarification of WHS Permit Holder powers.


The Queensland Government, led by the Miles administration, has proposed significant expansions to industrial manslaughter laws with the Electrical Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2024 (Qld). Introduced by the Minister for Industrial Relations, Grace Grace, the Bill follows recommendations from the 2022 Review.

Key amendments include extending the offence to cover persons who are not workers (e.g. bystanders) and introducing alternative penalties for serious offences. As a result, when a person is charged with Industrial Manslaughter, the court may alternatively convict the person of a Category 1 or Category 2 offence if that offence is established by the evidence. Additionally, if a person is charged with a Category 1 offence, they may be convicted of a category 2 offence. A summary of the alternative offence amendments is set out below:


The Bill includes "negligence" as a fault element for reckless conduct in relation to a Category 1 offence, which in essence lowers the legal standard required to proven by the prosecution for Category 1 offences.

We expect that the above changes will result in the Office of the Work Health and Safety Prosecutor instituting more Industrial Manslaughter and Category 1 charges. Where a PCBU, or Senior Officer, commits industrial manslaughter, a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment for an individual, or $10M for a body corporate, applies.

Finally, the Bill also provides HSRs and WHS Permit Holders the ability to conduct tests and take measurements, photos or videos. HSRs and WHS Permit Holders are not however permitted to live stream.

These amendments, including the recent commencement of the WHS Amendment Act, represent significant changes to the work health and safety landscape in Queensland. 

We will be conducting a webinar in relation to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) changes in July 2024. Please look out for the forthcoming webinar invitation to register your interest.  In the meantime, if would like to discuss the changes or require any assistance, please contact Mason Fettell.

We would like to thank Tilly Thomas-Earle for her contribution to this article.


Further Reading