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Harmonised WHS Laws in Western Australia

Western Australia has adopted the national model work health and safety (WHS) laws following most other Australian States and Territories.

With the Work Health and Safety Act, 2020 (WHS Act) assented to by the Governor on 10 November 2020, the new laws will replace the current Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA) and elements of other acts related to health and safety.

The new WHS Act will commence operation once the supporting regulations are finalised through 2021 and will represent all workplaces across the State. If you are conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), use this time to prepare for the changes.

What are the changes?

Some key changes the new Act will introduce are:

  • The introduction of a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU) as the person with the primary duty of care will replace the concept of an ‘employer’;
  • A ‘worker’ will include contractors, subcontractors, and the employees of contractors and subcontractors, an apprentice/trainee, employees of a labour hire company, students gaining work experience, and volunteers;
  • Company officers of PCBUs will have due diligence obligations;
  • Industrial manslaughter offences with maximum penalties of 20 years’ imprisonment and up to $10 million in fines. The government has introduced manslaughter provisions to ensure that deaths caused by the conduct of PCBUs and their officers will lead to substantial penalties, including imprisonment
  • Significant increases in penalties;
  • A primary duty of care to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers and others affected by their undertakings;
  • Expanded WHS inspector powers during an investigation;
  • A prohibition on insurance policies that seek to cover WHS breaches;
  • Provision to allow WHS inspectors to resolve disputes between parties; and
  • Duty of care for persons who provide WHS professional services (for example occupational hygienists, WHS consultants).

What do you need to do?

The government has advised there will be no “grace period” provided after the commencement of the WHS Act. Your first steps should be to review your current health and safety policies and procedures and make any necessary changes to ensure compliance with the new laws.

This will involve taking steps to ensure your business is complying with requirements, including:

  • acquiring knowledge about WHS duties set out in the regulations;
  • understanding WHS hazards and risks associated with your business;
  • ensuring your business has the right resources and processes in place to eliminate or minimise those WHS risks.

How SafetyDocs can help you?

We have been providing support to Australian businesses since the statewide harmonisation of WHS began in 2012. As Australia’s leading provider of OHS documentation, our experience, knowledge and product range are next to none when it comes to health and safety.

Written specifically to meet the model WHS laws, our policies, procedures and management systems cover all aspects of a world-class OHS system. Suitable for both small and large organisations, our documents provide the key elements required to conform to current legislation at a fraction of the cost a consultant might charge you.

Available for instant download and supplied in fully editable MS Word format, you can easily modify the documents to suit your exact business needs.

If your business has unique requirements SafetyDocs by SafetyCulture also provides a customisation service. To request a quote contact our friendly Customer Care Team.