WHS changes in WA - are you ready?

Published: 22/03/2022

WHS changes in WA - are you ready?

Western Australia is about to roll out the most significant change to workplace safety legislation in over 30 years. The WHS Act and accompanying regulations will come into effect on 31 March 2022.

On 15 December 2021, Minister Stephen Dawson MLC announced Western Australia's Work Health and Safety Act 2020 (WA Act) would be coming into effect on 31 March 2022.

The new regulations were passed by Parliament on 3 November 2020 and allow all Western Australian workplaces to fall under one single Act. The legislation is based on the national harmonised WHS legislation used in other states and territories (except Victoria).


What are the key changes?

The new laws encompass several measures to better protect workers' health, safety, and welfare in WA workplaces. The WA Act confirms responsibility for workplace safety lies at the top end of a business, with officers (senior decision makers) required to exercise due diligence to ensure compliance with the laws.

Key changes include:

Terminology changes - There is a terminology change from 'Primary Duty Holder' to 'Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking' (PCBU). The Act now recognises a broader range of modern work relationships including labour-hire, subcontractors, volunteers, and 'gig' economy workers to ensure anyone who engages any WA worker has a clear duty to protect their health and safety.

Industrial Manslaughter Changes - Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2020 and associated regulations, there will be no limitation period for charges of industrial manslaughter against a PCBU or officer. Penalties for gross negligence/industrial manslaughter have also increased up to 20 years imprisonment and $5 million for individuals and a maximum fine of $10 million for corporations.

WHS Penalties no longer Insurable - To ensure PCBUs are held responsible for any financial penalties they incur, WHS penalties will no longer be able to be covered by insurance.

Under section 272A of the WA Act, a maximum penalty of $51,000 for individuals and $255,000 for body corporates can be applied to:

  • those who insure or indemnify a person against a fine for an offence under the WA Act;
  • those who are insured or indemnified against fines under the WA Act; and
  • those who pay or accept an indemnity for a fine for an offence under the Act.

Further information on the new laws is available on the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety website .


How Coverforce can help

Increased responsibilities and penalties under the revised legislation will mean that WA businesses need to be more vigilant than ever regarding workplace safety.

While penalties cannot be Insured, legal and defence costs incurred by an organisation or by a person can be. Insurance options for defence costs can be included within a Directors & Officers (D & O) policy, a Statutory Liability policy or specific WHS Statutory policy.

In addition to the review and placement of compliant insurance solutions, our WA based team can arrange third party external workplace services to assist your business in reaching compliance with the new legislation, including:

  • Safety auditing and certification
  • Safety inductions
  • Safety management systems tailored to the business type
  • Contractor safety management
  • Hazard risk assessments
  • Incident investigations
  • Advice on legislative compliance
  • Managing Due Diligence Obligations

To find out more, contact your Coverforce Account Manager or our office directly on (08) 6210 8888.


The information provided in this article is of a general nature only and has been prepared without taking into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. If you require advice that is tailored to your specific business or individual circumstances, please contact Coverforce directly


REFERENCES

  • Lexology: Work Health & Safety Federal Update 2022 - What you need to know
  • Changes to work health and safety laws timeline | Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (commerce.wa.gov.au)
  • Media statements - New Work Health and Safety rules to begin 31 March


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