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On 3 October 2018, the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA) and the Mines Safety and Inspection Amendment Act 2018 (WA) (collectively the Acts) came into effect, which significantly increased the current penalties for work health and safety offences in Western Australia.
The new penalties are intended to provide a real incentive to comply with workplace safety laws and ensure penalties meet community expectations. The most significant penalty increases include:
The maximum penalties are consistent with the national model Work Health and Safety Act (WHS) plus a 14% increase for inflation, meaning WA now has the highest maximum penalties for workplace health and safety offences in Australia.
Upcoming changes - Work Health and Safety Bill
On 12 July 2017, the Western Australian Government announced the development of a modernised Work Health and Safety Act for Western Australia which is based on the WHS. This Act will replace three Acts, the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984, Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 and Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Safety Levies Act 2011. In July 2017, Commerce and Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston formed a ministerial advisory panel to advise on the development of a new and improved WHS Act, based on the national model WHS Act. The public consultation period closed on 31 August 2018. The WHS Bill is not expected to be introduced to State Parliament until mid-2019.
What steps should employers be taking
In light of these increases employers should ensure: