23 October 2020

WA’s WHS Bill passes Upper House

This article was written by Nicholas Beech.

The Work Health and Safety Bill 2019 (WA) (Bill) has passed the upper house of the Western Australian Parliament following some intensive debate over the last few weeks. It now goes back to a final vote by the lower house which is expected to take place on 3 November 2020. The new laws will commence when the associated regulations are finalised, expected early next year.

One of the key changes is the introduction of industrial manslaughter. Some last minute changes were made during the debate in the upper house including the entire removal of the ‘simple’ industrial manslaughter offence, that would have applied in circumstances where a PCBU or officer failed to comply with its health and safety duty which caused the death of an individual. The more serious but harder to prove ‘crime’ industrial manslaughter offence, including the potential for a term of imprisonment for up to 20 years and a fine of up to $5 million for an individual and a fine of up to $10 million for a PCBU, was passed in fundamentally the same terms as proposed. This is where the PCBU or individual acted in disregard of  knowledge that their conduct was likely to cause the death of an individual.

A number of other amendments were made to various sections of the Bill.  We will be putting out a more comprehensive overview of the changes and how those changes sit with the Model Work Health and Safety Laws in other Australian jurisdictions shortly.

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