Western Australia’s work health and safety laws are set to undergo a major overhaul, with a new bill proposed to improve consistency with the national legislation.
Commerce and Industrial Relations Minister, Bill Johnston, announced the development of a new Work Health and Safety (WHS) Bill that will be the primary safety legislation for all industries in WA. The existing legislation is 33 years old and is according to Mr Johnston, “out of date.”
The new WHS Bill will be supported by multiple industry-specific regulations to allow for WA’s unique conditions, allowing WA’s resources sector to continue their use of a risk-based approach.
The new bill would better protect workers and be based on the national Work Health and Safety Act adopted more than five years ago by all states and territories apart from WA and Victoria.
In addition, a parliamentary inquiry is underway into workplace authority, WorkSafe, after significant criticism of existing laws and organisational performance.
The revamp of WA’s WHS laws comes after 315 work-related fatalities in WA since 2001.
Labor MP and inquiry chairwoman, Adele Farina, highlighted that one work-place related death occurred every 19 days in WA between 2006 and 2016.
Minister Johnston added that the modernised bill will better protect workers.
"This is why we're taking action – the new bill is an important step in updating and improving the regulation of workplace health and safety."
The bill itself is not expected to be introduced to Parliament until mid-2019 after lengthy consultations with stakeholders and the community.