26 September 2023

New laws improve safety for all workers

Start the conversation

New Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws have become law in Western Australia, offering to improve protections for all the State’s workers.

A national first, the laws bring together WHS for general industry, mines and petroleum operations under a single Act.

They recognise modern work relationships such as sub-contractors and gig economy workers, and introduce the term ‘person conducting a business undertaking’.

Minister for Industrial Relations, Bill Johnston said as a result of this wording in the law, anyone who engaged a WA worker had a duty to protect their health and safety, mentally and physically.

“WA’s new laws harmonise with other States and Territories, except Victoria, although amendments have been made to tailor the laws to reflect our unique State,” Mr Johnston said.

“This means companies that operate across Australia will have similar obligations and requirements in each State and Territory,” he said.

Mr Johnston said the new laws confirmed that officers (senior decision makers) must exercise due diligence to ensure compliance with the laws, ensuring that the responsibility for workplace safety sat with those at the top of an organisation’s hierarchy.

“Industrial manslaughter laws will also begin carrying a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment and a $5 million fine for an individual, and a maximum $10 million fine for a body corporate,” he said.

“Insurance will no longer cover penalties, ensuring that persons conducting a business undertaking are held accountable for their actions and are responsible for financial penalties.”

Describing it as an historic day, Mr Johnston thanked the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety and the WA Commission for Occupational Safety and Health for all their hard work on developing the new laws.

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.