After several years since the introduction of the harmonised health and safety laws in the remainder of Australia (in some states, more than 10 years), the Western Australian government has announced that it is committed to aligning its legislation with the model Work Health & Safety Act in 2022.
If your business operates in Western Australia, you should follow closely the proposed changes to the health and safety legislation as they may constitute a significant shift in the laws for your business operations – and in your obligations. Over the coming months, it will be critical for WA employers to understand what these changes will mean for their business and to ensure they are ready for the introduction of the new laws.
This legislation is going to also provide for the introduction of industrial manslaughter laws, with a maximum penalty of a $10 million fine and up to 20 years in prison. Other breaches of this new legislation can also result in significant fines and jail time.
Some of the key changes arising from the introduction of the national model WHS Act that are likely to have an impact on WA businesses are:
- The Primary WHS Duty holders
- Primary duty of care captures a lot wider audience (workers and others)
- The increased responsibilities on boards and senior management to adopt the more onerous ‘due diligence’ standard in their approach to WHS
- The new responsibility to positively engage and consult with other businesses (e.g. contractors, suppliers, clients) in relation to how WHS is being managed at the workplace.
Other changes that business owners need to be aware of are:
- Changes to the Duties of Care of the employer, subcontractors and self-employed persons
- A stronger more focused approach to Due Diligence
- A greater focus on health within the workplace
- Changes to what is a notifiable incident to WorkSafe
- Changes to how the enforcement of WHS breaches are applied
- New and significantly increased penalties
- Penalties for WHS breaches can no longer be insured against.
Your business’s WHS requirements depend on the risks in your workplace. Contact the Safety Solutions WA team on 9434 1680, or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how these new laws will apply to your business and what you should be doing now in readiness.