In 2008, the Australian Government formally committed to harmonising the Occupational Safety and Health laws in Australia. Nationally harmonising OHS laws will mean
- A more consistent level of safety for all workers in Australia;
- Workers with licences or permits issued by State work health and safety regulators would have the ability to move easily between jurisdictions;
- Reduced compliance and regulatory burdens for businesses operating across State and Territory boundaries; and
- A larger resource of health and safety information, which will help deliver clear and consistent information to all Australians.
The WHS regulations provides a platform to deliver more consistent laws across Australia and these laws are generally supported by model Codes of Practice which have also been developed nationally as part of the harmonisation process and progressively being finalised. As of January 2013 every jurisdiction apart from Victoria and Western Australia had introduced the model legislation.
On 23rd of October 2014, the Minister for Commerce of WA has tabled in Parliament the Work Health and Safety Bill 2014 and it is opened for public comment for this draft legislation until the 30th of January. The WHS bill is not a current law of Western Australia, it is a draft legislation that has been developed for a public comment period.
The WHS Bill is a Western Australian version of the model Work Health and Safety Bill developed by SafeWork Australia for implementation by all Australian states and territories.
The date of implementation of the model law has not yet been determined. The Western Australian Government remains committed to core provisions of the model WHS bill however it is modifying the WHS law to suit the Western Australian working environment these include:
- a) the exclusion of four areas that will not be adopted as law in WA:
i. Union right of entry
ii. Penalty rates
iii. Reverse onus of proof in discrimination
iv. capacity for health and safety representatives to direct cessation of unsafe work
- b) WorkSafe WA retaining the exclusive responsibility within government in Western Australia to bring prosecutions for offences against WHS legislation and regulation;
- c) the need to ensure that the harmonisation in WA of WHS regulations for mining and general industry is maintained d) the assessments of its impacts, benefits and costs to the state
- e) changes in other areas including PCBU responsibilities and controlling risks