WA employers should now be preparing for new harmonised workplace health and safety laws. The new national model WHS Bill continues to gain momentum with the release of recommendations and the opening of a public consultation period.
In 2017, the McGowan government formed a Ministry Advisory Panel (MAP) to advise on the content of a new WHS Bill - one that was based on the national model WHS Act.
The MAP has now completed it's review into the new WHS Bill and has handed down 44 recommendations. There is now a two-month consultation period before the WHS Bill is finalised and introduced to Parliament.
A copy of the recommendations can be accessed here. Some key aspects of the recommendations relate to:
- Right of entry for union representatives
- Increased powers for inspectors
- Right for unions to initiate prosecutions for civil remedy provisions
- Increases to penalties
Aligning to the national model WHS Act will also mean more responsibilities for senior management, new requirements to engage with contractors/suppliers, and enhanced powers for workplace safety representatives.
The new laws will cover all workplaces in WA including mines, petroleum and general workplaces, with specific regulations for each industry sector. It therefore replaces three acts -Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984, Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994; and Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Safety Levies Act 2011.
Commerce and Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston encouraged the WA community to have their say on the modernisation of WA’s Work Health and Safety laws, which he says is long overdue.
“Our State’s occupational, health and safety legislation is 30 years old and outdated. The new Bill will strengthen the national harmonisation of laws and facilitate a consistent approach of health and safety in the workplace.”
All Western Australians are encouraged to join the Modernising Work Health and Safety Laws Information Sessions throughout July.
The public consultation period closes on 31 August 2018.