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Western Australia Workplace Health and Safety Act 2020 Blog Header Workplace Health and Safety Laws-01

New Workplace Health and Safety Laws for Western Australia

New Workplace Health and Safety Laws for Western Australia

Taking effect from March 2022, the WA Work Health and Safety Act 2020 (WHS Act) aims to better protect WA workers by imposing broader responsibilities and tougher penalties.

The WHS Act will replace:

  • The existing Occupational Health and Safety Act 1984; and,
  • Workplace health and safety elements of both the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 and the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Safety Levies Act 2011.

Basically, everyone in WA is impacted by the new legislation. The WHS Act is intended to cover all aspects of health and safety in every WA workplace.

The key objectives of the WHS Act are to:

  • Establish a broader duty of care within contemporary workplace relationships;
  • Ensure the health and safety of workers and others who are affected by the work being carried out;
  • Ensure due diligence is exercised so as to satisfy compliance obligations;
  • Establish a framework for workplace health and safety authorisations;
  • Establish reporting requirements for workplace health and safety incidents;
  • Provide for consultation on and resolution of workplace health and safety matters; and,
  • Protect against discrimination.

The new laws are predominantly based on the Federal Government’s model WHS Act, however, there are some key differences.

Introduction of Industrial Manslaughter

There has been controversy surrounding the WHS Act and the introduction of industrial manslaughter laws for persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) and their officers.

Under the WA Act, industrial manslaughter is a criminal offence with no limitation period. Under the WHS Act, prosecutors no longer have to convict a company to prosecute a company officer.

The industrial manslaughter provisions have been included in response to wide recognition of more needing to be done to prevent workplace deaths in Australia.


PCBU is a new term to WA’s workplace health and safety laws, standing for Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking. PCBU is broadly used through the WHS Act to refer to all forms of modern working arrangements.

As well as an employer, a PCBU could be a corporation, association, partnership, sole trader, local government and so on.

Workers are referred to throughout the Act, representing employees, subcontractors, apprentices, trainees, volunteers, and students on work experience.

PCBUs have an equal duty of care to a worker, regardless of how many PCBUs there are.

Workplace Health and Safety Service Providers

WA’s new workplace health and safety laws also extend to service providers such as external advisors and trainers. Service providers have a specific duty of care imposed on them and must ensure so far as is reasonable that their services do not pose a health and safety risk to anyone in the workplace.


Under the old legislation, insurance could pay legal fees and penalties if you were prosecuted under the OHS Act. Under the WHS Act, insurance can still pay your legal fees, however, when it comes to paying the fine, PCBUs and company officers cannot take out insurance to cover this cost. If you are personally prosecuted, the fine has to be paid from your own pocket.

Workplace Health and Safety Consultants

QSM Group specialises in helping organisations, in all industries, meet and exceed their workplace health and safety obligations. Our qualified experts are trained in assisting with ISO compliance and certification, integrated management systems, and compliance management software. Contact us today to see how we can help your organisation streamline its workplace health and safety management.

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