A Labor Government will introduce tougher penalties for corporations and jail for individuals responsible for workplace death resulting from a breach of work safety laws.
New South Wales has the highest number and proportion of workplace fatalities in Australia.
On taking office in 2011, the Liberals and Nationals watered down work safety laws, stripped prosecutions from the specialist Industrial Court (now abolished altogether) and cut back on compliance measures and enforcement actions.
The running down of work safety action is being reflected in the upward trend in workplace fatalities.
The first year of the Coalition Government saw overall deaths attributable to the workplace increase by 4.3 per cent and over its first two years in office the deaths occurring in the workplace increased - by 7.8 per cent in 2011-12 and 5.45 per cent in 2012-13.
After a decrease the following year, the toll once again continued to climb over the following two years - by 16.42 per cent in 2014-15 and 15.38 per cent in 2015-16.
A clear message needs to be sent that there are too many workplace deaths as a result of safety breaches. NSW Labor will consult with unions, employers and the community about the best model and the level of penalties, including length of jail terms, bearing in mind that manslaughter has a maximum penalty of 25 years' jail.
Importantly, any new legislation will be carefully drafted to ensure individual workers are not made scapegoats for corporate failures.
Only a Labor Government will make the prevention of workplace deaths a priority.