Safety Q&A – New Employer Obligations Under WA’s Proposed WHS Legislation

Last month we had some great questions in regards to how an employer’s “Duty of Care” is likely to be affected with the introduction of the proposed WA Work Health & Safety (WHS) Legislation. IRP’s Occupational Health & Safety Manager, Adrian Lomman provided the following response:

In short, the onus on employers (termed PCBU’s – Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking) and all parties involved in the workplace under WHS law will increase with an additional requirement for workplaces to demonstrate due diligence in their approach to WHS.

The penalties for a breach of the new legislation is also earmarked to increase as summarised below:

  • The WA Government has already introduced proposed legislation to significantly increase penalties for breaches of both the existing Occupational Health and Safety Act 1984 (WA) and the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 (WA).
  • It is anticipated that these changes will take place ahead of the introduction of the WHS Bill, and it appears likely they will remain in place if and when the WHS Bill becomes law. At this time however, these reforms have not progressed through Parliament.

Note: The proposed penalty increases are significant, in some cases about five or six times the current maximum. A summary of the key proposed penalty increases are as follows:

Organisations/ Body CorporationIndividuals
Level 4
Gross Negligence Causing Death or Serious Harm
$2.7m$3.5m$550k and 5 years’ imprisonment$680k and 5 years’ imprisonment
Level 3
Breach Resulting In Serious Harm or Death
Level 2
Breach of Duty Exposing Individual to Risk of Death or Serious Harm
Level 1
Breach of Duty

Source: Corrs Chambers Westgarth Lawyers