WA's new work health and safety laws takes effect

After 30 years, state's WHS laws will be 'modernized' on 31 March

WA's new work health and safety laws takes effect

The Western Australian government’s recently announced rules are expected to introduce groundbreaking developments after 30 years, as the state’s new Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws are set to begin on 31 March.
In a media release, the McGowan government said the new laws would recognise modern work relationships such as subcontractors and gig economy workers. The laws would also integrate the concept of a ‘person conducting a business undertaking,’ which would mean any employer or entity that would engage a WA worker has a legal obligation to protect their health and safety.

Aside from accommodating different forms of employment relationships into the fold, new offences and penalties are set to be introduced too, with industrial manslaughter laws being the highlight. The offence will carry a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment, a $5 million fine for an individual, and a maximum $10 million fine for a body corporate.

According to the McGowan government, insurance will no longer cover penalties, saying that the move would ensure that persons conducting a business undertaking are held accountable for their actions and are responsible for financial penalties.

The new laws also aim to confirm that officers, an employer’s “decision makers,” should exercise due diligence to ensure compliance with the laws, strengthening that the responsibility for workplace safety sits “with those at the top of an organisation's hierarchy.”
WA’s WHS laws further mark a “national first,” since the state would bring together WHS for general industry, mines and petroleum operation under a single Act.
“The new laws harmonise WA with other States and Territories, except Victoria, although amendments have been made to tailor the laws to reflect our unique State. This means companies that operate across Australia will have similar obligations and requirements in each State and Territory,” WA Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston said in a media release.
"The new Work Health and Safety Act provides all workplace participants to review their health and safety practices and make a new commitment to ensure all their staff are happy and healthy at work," Johnston added.

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