The Work Health and Safety Act 2020 (WHS Act) has now come into force for Western Australia with the regulations are finalised. Exposure drafts were released in December 2021 to provide WA workplaces with the opportunity to prepare themselves for requirements.
The WHS Act is based on the model WHS legislation developed by Safe Work Australia (SWA), however contains a number of modifications for Western Australia, including areas such as:
- Industrial manslaughter
- Union right of entry which is retained in the Industrial Relations Act 1979 and not included in the WHS Act
- Prohibition on insurance for monetary penalties
- The right of HSRs to choose their course of training
- A specific duty is included for providers of work health and safety services to ensure those services do not pose a risk to persons at the workplace
A ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU) has been introduced in the WHS Act as the primary duty of care holder, and covers a broader range of workplace relationships.
Provisions around industrial manslaughter are not included in the SWA model WHS legislation, however, are present in the new Western Australian WHS Act (s. 30A) as the McGowan government intends this to be a contributor in a “step up” in the culture of workplace safety in WA. The Act allows for a PCBU and their officers to be criminally charged with industrial manslaughter in the event of a workplace death. These provisions are intended to have a strong deterrence effect due to the substantial penalties that apply, including imprisonment. It is recommended that you access the WA Government FAQs about the Act and these new provisions.
How does the WHS Act affect my contractor management?
In adapting the SWA model WHS legislation, the Western Australian government considered that modern working environments go beyond a traditional employer-employee relationship. In adapting the Act, modifications have been made that consider the use of contracted workforces, including labour hire, volunteers, and operators in the ‘gig’ economy.
While the contractors you engage may also be classified as PCBUs, the use of a contracted workforce or specialist contractors does not completely discharge your duty of care to provide a safe workplace. On sites where multiple duty holders are present, Section 46 of the WHS Act requires that each person with a duty must “consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with others with a duty in relation to the same matter, so far as is reasonably practicable”.
It is important that you can demonstrate that your selection and management of the contractors you engage results in all practicable measures being taken to provide a safe workplace. This can include verification that your contractors are licenced where required, hold the correct insurances, implement safe systems of work, and adhere to your policies and procedures in accordance with contracts.
How Cm3 can assist PCBUs in WHS Act compliance
Cm3 is a contractor prequalification system that can assist PCBUs in Western Australia to achieve complete control of their contractor compliance. The team of highly qualified assessors confirm that each contractor you engage holds the required insurances and licences, and implements the safe work practices required to safely and compliantly complete your work.
Businesses use Cm3 to collect additional information, including ethical sourcing adherence, declarations, and more. Additionally, the platform is capable of powerful integrations with other platforms including site access, induction, procurement, and accounting systems.
Australian-based support ensures that your contractors are looked after throughout the process of registration, assessment, and ongoing renewal. Learn more about the contractor journey.
Speak to a Cm3 product expert today about introducing Cm3 to your safety management arsenal.