It has been reported, Western Australia (WA) is closer to finalising their Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation that will align with other states and territory, apart from Victoria. It was interesting that WA will include industrial manslaughter laws and the term PCBU which means persons conducting a business or undertaking instead of employer.
The intent of adopting the WHS is to introduce greater protection to workers, capturing modern employment relationships, such as subcontractors or casual workers, not just the classic employer/employee relationship.
The health and safety regulators have outlined there are no additional duties placed on employers (PCBUs) with meeting their legal obligations. However, the consequences are more significant which includes a maximum penalty of between five and 20 years of imprisonment for an individual and a maximum $10 million fine for a body corporate.
It is understood, new legislation brings together all industries, general, mining and petroleum, into one Work Health and Safety Act, but with separate regulations, this will assist WA businesses with their safety obligations. Additional changes will include, prohibiting insurance coverage for WHS penalties and the introduction of enforceable undertakings as an alternative penalty.
This would be welcomed news for national businesses located in WA with an consistent approach towards health and safety. The Bill will now be sent to the Legislative Assembly for the final vote, which is expected on November 3, and will become law once the supporting regulations are finalised next year.