New industrial manslaughter laws in SA bring drug and alcohol testing into focus

Industrial manslaughter is now a crime in most of the country and makes workplace drug and alcohol testing even more important. Credit omid roshan

South Australia has introduced new laws that make industrial manslaughter a criminal offence. What is industrial manslaughter and why do the new laws make drug and alcohol testing even more important for workplaces where safety is vital?

South Australia industrial manslaughter laws

According to the Government of South Australia, under the new laws, companies and individuals can face harsh consequences if they are reckless or grossly negligent in conduct which breaches a work health and safety duty and results in the death of another person.

For an individual, the consequences can include a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment. For a company, the penalty can include a maximum fine of $18 million.

In a media release the government claims, “The new laws do not impose any new duties that are not already owed under current workplace laws. Instead, it ensures that when those duties are breached and this results in the death of a person, the penalty reflects the severity of the crime.”

The Attorney-General of South Australia, Kyam Maher, says, “Every South Australian deserves to be safe in the workplace and come home to their loved ones at the end of each day.

“The overwhelming majority of businesses in South Australia do the right thing and take the health and safety of their workers seriously. This legislation sends a clear message to any dodgy operators that are reckless or grossly negligent with their workers’ health and safety that they will be held to account.”

Industrial manslaughter rules in other parts of Australia

The new laws and the tough penalties bring South Australia in line with many other states and territories that have industrial manslaughter laws in place. This includes Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, the ACT and the Northern Territory.

In NSW, attempts to introduce laws in 2021 failed and legislation hasn’t been introduced since. In Tasmania, there are no plans to implement industrial manslaughter laws, although there have been recent calls to do so.

In both states, there are acts that contain provisions similar to industrial manslaughter laws. However, the penalties are not as severe.

Industrial manslaughter laws and drug and alcohol testing

What do industrial manslaughter laws have to do with drug and alcohol testing in the workplace?

If your workplace is one where there are safety risks (e.g. mining, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, aviation, etc.), it’s now more important than ever to have a comprehensive plan to manage drugs and alcohol. Significant consequences can apply if you don’t.

What does managing drugs and alcohol involve? Processes such as having a robust drug and alcohol management policy and procedures in place. Providing education to your people about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Providing support for people with drug and alcohol issues. And conducting drug and alcohol testing.

If you’re concerned about the industrial manslaughter laws and aren’t sure whether you’re appropriately managing drugs and alcohol, take action now.

Contact Integrity Sampling. We can help you with all aspects of drug and alcohol management. We can help protect you and your business.


Industrial manslaughter is now a crime in most of the country and makes workplace drug and alcohol testing even more important. Credit omid roshan

By Michael

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Melbourne and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

Leave a comment