Internationally there has been a shift towards greater criminalisation of breaches of OHS responsibilities, particularly when a death results. This new criminalisation in the form of revised manslaughter provisions is argued to potentially have important deterrent effects that could improve health and safety at work. However, the evidence that offences such as industrial manslaughter will act as a deterrent to those tolerating or explicitly condoning poor industrial health and safety standards is not strong. The following article reviews this evidence and then explores the expressive and symbolic dimension of the criminal law-elements often overlooked in discussions of organisational criminal liability although they are central to its appeal. Criminological and sociological literature is used to analyse the potential of symbolism as it relates to industrial manslaughter. The article argues that, while there is some potential for rich and transformative symbolism in the case of industrial manslaughter reform, expressive and emotional functions of criminal law are those most vulnerable to political manipulation and empty symbolism.
|Journal of Occupational Health and Safety: Australia and New Zealand
|Published - 2004