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Union body calls for review of industrial manslaughter laws

By Michael Reid - 9 May 2016 1

law generic

The failure to prosecute Schwing Australia over the death of Ben Catanzariti highlights serious limitations with industrial manslaughter laws, according to Canberra’s peak union body.

The ACT public prosecutor on Monday dropped the case against the multinational concreting company and an engineer over the death of Catanzariti in July 2012. He was killed when a faulty concrete pump boom collapsed on him at a construction site on the Kingston Foreshore. Two others were seriously injured in the incident.

UnionsACT secretary Alex White said industrial manslaughter laws were introduced in the ACT in 2003 to ensure workplaces in Canberra were as safe as possible, making employers liable if their criminal negligence or recklessness caused the death of a worker.

The law was supposed to replace antiquated laws that allowed directors of companies to avoid criminal liability if a worker was killed at work.

But White said the failure of the Catanzariti case highlighted the need for investigations of industrial accidents resulting in a death to be better resourced and industrial manslaughter laws strengthened.

“The prosecutions have dragged on, and now, at the last minute, have been abandoned,” he said.

“The only people who pay a price when a worker is killed at work appears to be the family.

“The ACT Government should review the effectiveness of the industrial manslaughter laws and the resources available to regulators to fully investigate serious workplace accidents and deaths.

“The community rightly expects that justice be served when a worker loses their life.”

 

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