October 17, 2018

WHS Harmonisation: Increased Penalties in Western Australia are Now in Effect

What is Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Harmonisation?
Up until now in Australia, different states have abided by different sets of Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) laws. The changes to WHS laws in Australia and particularly WHS harmonisation in Western Australia, is designed to provide all states and territories with a consistent set of WHS laws to ‘provide for a balanced and nationally consistent framework to secure the health and safety of workers and workplaces’.
These changes will influence the day-to-day operations in how occupational health and safety (OHS) is practiced and managed as well as how incidents are reported. It will also ensure that health, safety, environment and quality (HSEQ) management as a whole will be simplified, to ensure greater compliance in your workplace.
Increased Penalties
In addition to the WHS harmonisation laws shifting, penalties have been increased and are now in effect as of 3 October 2018. The Government announced at the penalties for offences under the current Occupational Health and Safety Act 1984 (WA) will reflect the penalties under the model Work Health and Safety Act. Industrial manslaughter laws are also in the spotlight for proposed increased civil penalties facing organisations and individuals that break the new workplace health and safety laws.
This means that:
  • Maximum penalties for serious breaches where a duty holder recklessly endangers a person to risk of death or serious injury (Level 1 offences) will increase from $50,000 to $456,000
  • Maximum penalties for gross negligence causing death or serious harm (Level 4 offences), for first time offenders, will increase from $500,000 to more than $2.7 million for companies, and to $550,000 and five years’ in prison for individuals
  • Maximum penalties for gross negligence causing death or serious harm (Level 4 offences), for first subsequent offenders, will increase from $625,000 to $3.5 million for companies, and from $312,500 and two years’ prison time to $680,000 for individuals with the possibility of prison time
  • The maximum term of imprisonment for an individual convicted of a Level 4 offence will increase from two years to five years
The new penalties operate in workplaces covered by the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 and the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

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