PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Western Australian Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) has welcomed the introduction of the Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Bill into the Western Australian Parliament.
Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston said that the new legislation included industrial manslaughter provisions carrying a maximum penalty of 20 years' imprisonment for an individual and a fine of A$10-million for a body corporate.
The new laws will make it illegal for insurance companies to indemnify entities against monetary penalties imposed under workplace health and safety laws.
"The health and safety of workers is a priority for the government, and this Bill will modernise Western Australia's laws and bring us into line with other States.
"The current legislation is spread across multiple Acts and regulations - this update will bring the resources sector and general industries under the same Act, but with separate regulations,” Johnston said.
"The community has high expectations that every worker has the right to come home safely after each shift, having a strong deterrence in this legislation completely accords with these expectations."
CME CEO Paul Everingham said it is pleasing to see that a number of critical recommendations made by industry have been adopted in the Bill.
“The decision to not include the WHS entry provisions in the Bill is a positive step that recognises WA and federal industrial relations legislation already provides a pathway for WHS entry.
“We are also pleased with the government’s decision to remove the proposed powers for unions to bring prosecutions, a regulatory power which would have significantly undermined the integrity of the Western Australian WHS regulator. The recent announcement to instead increase resourcing to WorkSafe Western Australia by funding more than 20 new inspectors will be far more effective in preventing health and safety incidents.”
Everingham said it was critical the provisions were given detailed consideration by CME members through the parliamentary process to ensure there are no unintended consequences.
“While acknowledging there needs to be consequences for offences, an over-emphasis on punitive enforcement and compliance is not in the best interest of achieving better safety and health outcomes. Poorly considered or rushed introduction of an industrial manslaughter offence could have unintended consequences which impair, rather than enhance, health and safety outcomes,” Everingham added.
The CME will now work to review these provisions with its members, as well as the broader content of the Bill to consider the late changes in full.