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New work health and safety laws come into effect in Western Australia

The new Work Health and Safety (General) Regulations 2022 commenced on 31 March 2022, bringing the Work Health and Safety Act 2020 (WHS Act) into full force and effect.

This change brings Western Australia’s work health and safety (WHS) laws into line with other harmonised states and territories (all except Victoria).

Although the law is now harmonised, the Western Australian Codes of Practice are still operational. The WA Government has indicated that the Codes of Practice will soon be updated in line with the WHS Act, but at least for now, they still apply.

There are some key differences between Western Australia and the other harmonised states, including:

  • the offence of industrial manslaughter (s30A);
  • insurance against fines and penalties is prohibited (s272A);
  • WHS inspectors are permitted to resolve disputes between parties (s82(4));
  • WHS committees are required to have at least one member with “sufficient authority” within the business (s76(5));
  • WHS service providers have a specific duty of care in WA, like for example occupational hygienists (s26A);
  • union right of entry was retained in the Industrial Relations Act 1979 and not included in the WHS Act; and
  • health and safety representatives have the right to choose their course of training.
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