Could industrial manslaughter be uninsurable?

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Last month, Queensland passed legislation to make industrial manslaughter a criminal offence and organisations across the state were plunged into uncertainty over whether their current coverage would offer any protection.

Now, one of the world’s most prominent industrial insurers has spoken out about the issue, telling Insurance Business that ongoing discussion is an absolute must.

“HDI Global recognises the potential for such costs to be covered but policy response, whether it be liability or D&O, would be dependent on the specific allegations and circumstance,” said David Lloyd, regional claims manager of Australasia and ASEAN at HDI Global.

“The heightened nature of personal and, in some circumstances, uninsurable accountability foisted by this corporate manslaughter law on to directors and managers should be creating pro-active ongoing discussion regarding relevant risk management in boardrooms of companies of all sizes, private and public.”

Under the new law, senior executives and corporations could be charged with industrial manslaughter if someone dies at their workplace – the legislation comes on the back of the Dreamworld disaster, where four visitors were killed on the theme park’s Thunder Rapids ride.

The maximum penalty for industrial manslaughter will be 20 years imprisonment for an individual with a maximum fine of $10 million for a corporate offender.

“These penalties send out a strong message to all employers that negligence causing death won’t be tolerated under any circumstances,” said industrial relations minister Grace Grace, after the legislation was passed.

“Up until now it’s been difficult to prosecute some employers for manslaughter but these new laws will hold all employers – regardless of their size or structure – accountable for negligence contributing to a worker’s death,” she added.


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