In March 2022, it is anticipated that the new Work Health & Safety Regulations will be finalised and introduced in Western Australia. This will now harmonise the WHS regime across Australia, creating greater consistency between each State & Territory.
The new Work Health and Safety Act 2020 (WA), (the Act) will include several changes, however the most notable being:
Criminal Actions for Directors & Officers
If a ‘Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking’ (PCBUs) is engaging in conduct knowing the conduct is likely to cause death “or serious harm” to an individual, the crime will now carry a potential imprisonment term for up to 20 years and a fine up to $5,000,000 for an individual person and up to $10,000,000 for a body corporate.
What about Insurance?
Up until now, WA businesses could protect themselves from statutory penalties via insurance, however, this will now be prohibited going forward. Thankfully, the applicable insurance policies will continue to provide cover for the legal defence costs, in order to defend a matter. Based on data received from a Statutory Liability Insurer, the average legal costs represent 85% of most Statutory Liability claims.
What I can do now?
WA Worksafe is looking for businesses to have a highly proactive approach to managing their business risk and overall WHS governance.
We encourage all businesses in WA to become more acquainted with the proposed changes. As some of the changes are quite extensive, we recommend engaging a WHS Specialist to conduct a safety audit or gap analysis.
Western Australia is now the last state to implement these changes. Based on what the other States have experienced, the investigations of safety breaches will become quite prolific in WA going forward.
Workplace, Health and Safety must now become front of mind for all businesses, in order to prevent any future injuries or fatalities from occurring.