An Australian state is considering making all workplace deaths the subject of a coroner’s inquiry.
Tasmania is considering changing the current rules — where the decision to hold an inquest into a workplace death is made on a case-by-case basis — to make an inquest mandatory.
In a press release, Attorney General Judy Jackson said she would be seeking to amend the Coroners Act to ensure inquests were held for all workplace deaths not certified by a medical practitioner as a “natural” death.
“In consultation with the Australian Workers Union (AWU) I have accepted a need exists to ensure that all such deaths are rigorously investigated,” she said. “Currently the decision on whether a full inquest is carried out is in the hands of individual coroners unless a direction is given by the Attorney General or the Chief Magistrate on a case-by-case basis.
“I believe it should be mandatory that all unnatural workplace deaths be the subject of an inquest.
“Every Tasmanian worker has the right to a safe working environment and every employer the obligation to provide one.
“Obviously, inquests cannot reverse the individual tragedy that triggered them but they can contribute to safer workplaces by identifying risks, ensuring that employer obligations are being met and by recommending improvements to workplace practices.”
Jackson said some families may not want a full inquest and said the proposed amendments would give families the right to request that an inquest not occur.
Upon receipt of such a request the coroner would consider that request against the legal requirements and the likely public good of an inquest and make a decision.
“Until the amendments became law I will use my existing powers to direct that inquests be held on a case-by-case basis.
“I thank the union movement, and in particular the AWU, for pursuing this matter and continuing to demonstrate their deep concern for the wellbeing of Tasmanian workers,” said Jackson.