OH&S Harmonisation Update – WA

Western Australia is one of four jurisdictions (including Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia) which will not be adopting the WHS laws from 1 January 2012.

The Commonwealth has not provided sufficient time for all Western Australian businesses to come up to speed with the new requirements.  The model WHS regulations are still minus the mining component.  These regulations have an important bearing on the implementation of the overall WHS laws package.  The Government has concerns that having a different commencement date for mining laws will create an uncertain regulatory environment which could conceivably have a negative impact on safety standards in this high risk industry.  Western Australia is of the view that implementation of the model WHS laws requires the complete package for implementation which includes all the mining regulations.

The Commonwealth Government’s Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) for the model WHS regulations is inadequate for Western Australia.  As a result, a local RIS including public consultation in relation to the implementation of the model WHS regulations in WA is required.  The process, which should take up to six months, has commenced.  It is anticipated that the public consultation element of the process will be started around February 2012.  In order to aid its decision making, this process will provide the Government with information and analysis about the consequences the model WHS regulations would have on workers, businesses, government and the economy if applied to Western Australian workplaces. 

In view of these circumstances, the date of implementation for the model laws in WA has not been determined and will need to be reassessed.

Beyond the timing issue, the process for implementing model WHS laws will involve the development of some WA specific transitional laws. Some guiding principles have been agreed through the harmonisation process to deliver a consistent transition process in each jurisdiction. However, as each jurisdiction has a different set of current laws, the transitional provisions in each jurisdiction may need to cover different topics and therefore will not be identical.

Once the WA version of these transitional provisions has been finalised, WorkSafe will make more information available on how they will operate. But by way of example, the transitional provisions will deal with numerous administrative issues such as – 

  • Continuity of currently elected Safety and Health Representatives so as to avoid the need for unnecessary election processes.  
  • The rules for the continuation of existing investigations.

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

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