Western Australia has finalised its occupational health and safety (OHS) reform, including new laws and legislation. The reform came into effect on March 31 this year and now aligns Western Australia with the rest of the country, allowing national consistency.
The Act replaces the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA) (OSH Act) and some of the health and safety elements of the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 (WA), Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967 (WA), Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1982 (WA) and Petroleum Pipelines Act 1969 (WA).
What has changed?
Let’s look more closely at the new WHS laws.
Goodbye OSH – hello WHS
The Work Health and Safety Act 2020 (‘WHS Act’) replaces the existing ‘OSH Act’ (introduced in 1984). The reform brings WA workplaces under a single WHS Act.
New definitions – you could be a ‘PCBU’
The WHS Act introduces the new definition of the ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ – or PCBU. A PCBU can be:
- a sole trader (self-employed)
- individual partners within a partnership
- a company
- an unincorporated association
- a government department of public authority.
Under the new WHS Act, the PCBU has the primary duty of care. But what does that mean? Previously, the OSH Act’s duty of care was based mainly on the employer-employee relationship. Under the new WHS Act, PCBUs primary duty of care is to ensure the health and safety of their workers and others who could be affected by their work. Also, officers and managers of PCBUs will now have a non-delegable duty to ensure they meet safety obligations, which now include the psychological health and safety of workers.
The term ‘workers’ now encompasses different contracts and employment across industries.
Changes to Penalties
The WHS Act now:
- includes a new offence: industrial manslaughter (s30A)
- voids insurance coverage for WHS penalties and imposes penalties for providing or purchasing this insurance
- introduces what is known as ‘enforceable undertakings.’
WHS laws are now similar across Australia
The new laws work to implement consistency Australia-wide.
You have time to change
The WHS Act has implemented transitional arrangements which apply where duties are new or have changed significantly from what they were – so support business owners have time to adapt to the change.
The Team at Soul Legal
If you need some help understanding your obligations under the new laws, our experienced worker’s compensation lawyers in Perth, Baldivis, and Osborne Park, WA, can help.
If you are considering making a worker’s compensation claim or have made one but are seeking further legal advice, We offer a free no-obligation claim assessment and a no-win-no-fee lawyer service if we consider your claim worth pursuing. Our dedicated and empathetic lawyers will help you through every step of the claims process.
As leading Perth worker’s compensation lawyers, we’ll listen and help you through this journey.
Director / Partner Soul Legal