26 September 2023

New laws to improve safety for workers

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New Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws come into force at the end of March, with the aim of improving workforce safety for all Western Australian workers.

Minister for Industrial Relations, Bill Johnston said the laws recognised modern work relationships such as sub-contractors and gig economy workers, and introduced the term ‘person conducting a business undertaking’.

“This means anyone who engages a WA worker has a duty to protect their health and safety,” Mr Johnston said.

“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.

Mr Johnston said the new laws confirmed that 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.

“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,” he said.

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

The Minister said the new laws modernised Western Australia’s outdated workplace safety laws, which were over 30 years old, and would protect all workers, physically and mentally.

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

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