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Employers including organisations and senior officers will be held responsible for workplace deaths under the Victorian Government’s new workplace manslaughter laws introduced this week.

Deaths including suicide, caused by mental injuries caused in the workplace, as well as accidents caused by dangerous worksites will be covered under the legislation. A negligent employer could face jail time of up to 20 years and fines of up to $16.5 million.

Slater and Gordon Workers’ Compensation Practice Group Leader James Carlson said the families he has represented through the legal system, to seek justice following the death of a loved one at work, were relieved to hear the legislation is finally in place.

“We have witnessed first-hand, the devastating effects on families, loved ones and the community in the work we do,” Mr Carlson said.

“Prior to this legislation in Victoria, even companies found guilty of serious negligence would only face fines.

“If an employer is found to be negligent resulting in an employee dying, there will be now serious consequences.

“No one should lose their life to a workplace accident or become seriously unwell or injured as a result of the work they do.”

Slater and Gordon and the unions played a significant role in advising the State Government during the drafting of the legislation.

WorkSafe Victoria will investigate new offences using their powers under the OHS Act to ensure perpetrators can be prosecuted.

Nearly 20 people have already lost their lives in Victoria this year.

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