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The Victorian Government has announced a crackdown on the storing and handling of dangerous goods with the introduction of tough new laws and penalties.

Under the proposed Dangerous Goods Amendment (Penalty Reform) Bill 2019, a new ‘reckless conduct’ offence will be created, carrying a penalty of up to 10 years prison for individuals who engage in reckless conduct in the manufacture, storage, transport, transfer, sale or use of dangerous goods that places a person in danger of death.

Body corporates who engage in reckless conduct that places a person in danger of death will face fines of up to $6.4 million.

Existing penalties for failing to comply with the Dangerous Goods Act, where someone should have reasonably known their actions would endanger health and safety, property or the environment will be increased from four to five years imprisonment and from $161,000 to $290,000 in fines for individuals.

Fines for body corporates for endangering health and safety will substantially increase from $806,000 to $3.2 million.

Fines will also be increased for failing to comply with the direction of a WorkSafe Inspector, and for several other offences of failing to carry out duties under the Act.

According to WorkSafe Victoria dangerous goods are substances that are corrosive, flammable, combustible, explosive, oxidising or water-reactive or have other hazardous properties.

The Victorian Minister for Workplace Safety, Jill Hennessy, said the aim of the amendment is to make sure rogue operators face penalties that reflect the seriousness of their actions.

“Anyone manufacturing, storing, transporting, transferring, selling or using dangerous goods has a duty to keep their workers, the community and the environment safe and these tough new penalties make that very clear,” Hennessy said.

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