Australia: WA on the march towards model work health and safety laws

As WA progresses to adopting its own version of the harmonised WHS legislation (and announces a significant increase in penalties), employers in Western Australia will need to prepare for a number of changes in work health and safety (WHS) laws over the next two years.

A number of immediate and upcoming changes to safety regulation in WA have been announced by the McGowan Government (Government). These are:

  1. Amalgamation of regulators

    In April 2017, it was announced that the Department of Mines and Petroleum (which previously regulated safety in the WA resources sector) would amalgamate with the Department of Commerce (which includes WorkSafe WA). This amalgamated department is now known as the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.

    The Government stated that providing for a single regulator will elevate the focus on worker safety in WA. WorkSafe WA has previously been criticised by some stakeholders for being a reactive, rather than a proactive, regulator, while the Department of Mines and Petroleum has generally been considered to be better resourced and more proactive.

    Accordingly, the amalgamation may result in a different approach.

  2. Development of a single harmonised WHS bill

    In July 2017, it was announced that the Government had approved the development of a single Work Health and Safety Bill (Bill) to replace the following pieces of safety legislation (among others):

    • Occupational Health and Safety Act 1984;
    • Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994;
    • Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1982;
    • Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967; and
    • Pipelines Act 1969.

    The Government has indicated that the Bill is expected to be introduced mid-2019, and will be based on the national model Work Health and Safety Act.

    As the timeline initially proposed seems relatively generous, and the model laws are relatively well understood (having been in place for some years in most jurisdictions), it is possible that the Bill may be introduced earlier than mid-2019. In any event, once it is passed, WA will have safety legislation consistent with all States and Territories, other than Victoria.

    It is proposed that that the new legislation will be supported by industry specific regulations, which will enable the resources sector to use risk-based processes, and support a safety-case system for the petroleum industry and major hazard facilities.

  3. Increased penalties

    Most recently, the Government announced that the penalties for offences under the current Occupational Health and Safety Act 1984 (WA) will increase to reflect the penalties under the model Work Health and Safety Act.

    This means that:

    • maximum penalties for Level 1 offences will increase from $50,000 to $456,000;
    • maximum penalties for Level 4 offences, for first time offenders, will increase from $500,000 to more than $2.7 million; and
    • the maximum term of imprisonment for an individual convicted of a Level 4 offence will increase from two years to five years.

WA Premier Mark McGowan commented that "Penalties for workplace safety offences haven't changed for 13 years. The substantial increases reflect the seriousness of ensuring the safety of Western Australian workers."1

WHAT'S NEXT?

The Government will form a Ministerial Advisory Panel (MAP), to advise on the content of the Work Health and Safety Bill and the relevant industry regulations.

The MAP will be Chaired by Stephanie Mayman, the Chair of the Commission for Occupational Safety and Health, and will include representatives from the government, industry bodies and UnionsWA. Ms Mayman was a key member of the 2008 National OHS Review Panel which led to the national model Work Health and Safety Act.

The Government has indicated that it will engage in an extensive consultation process prior to the introduction of the new Work Health and Safety Bill. This will presumably be driven through the MAP.

Some of the key issues likely to be discussed during this process will include:

  • the inclusion of the offence of gross negligent conduct (which was a pre-election commitment of the McGowan government);
  • the ability for unions to institute prosecutions;
  • the level of specificity of industry regulations (for example the framework relating to fly-in, fly-out workers); and
  • the due diligence obligations of directors and senior managers.

HOW SHOULD EMPLOYERS PREPARE?

Employers in WA and others likely to be affected by these changes should consider any issues of importance to their business, particularly those relation to industry specific regulation, carefully. They also need to ensure that these are addressed through their relevant industry bodies, or directly by the business, as part of the consultation process.

Consideration should also be given to the manner in which directors and senior managers can prepare for the introduction of the model WHS legislation in WA. Due diligence obligations already apply to directors and senior managers in other jurisdictions, and it is likely that the WA Bill will impose very similar obligations. Directors and senior managers should ensure that they are familiar with these obligations and that the business is equipped to assist them in meeting them.

While there is still some time before the model WHS laws are introduced in WA, directors and senior managers should take steps now to ensure they are familiar with their personal obligations under the new laws, and that they receive the appropriate level of support from their business.

Corrs has provided training to a range of Boards and executive teams on these issues, so please get in touch with a member of our team if you would like to arrange a session for your business.

Footnotes

1 "McGowan Government to increase penalties for workplace safety offences", Government of Western Australia, 27 August 2017: https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2017/08/McGowan-Government-to-increase-penalties-for-workplace-safety-offences.aspx

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Chambers Asia Pacific Awards 2016 Winner – Australia
Client Service Award
Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (WGEA)

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
 
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions