New WHS Act: Enforcement Measures

We are almost at the end of our journey through an overview of the new Work Health and Safety Act 2020 (WHS Act) coming into force in WA this year, but we still have a couple more ‘stops’ to make. Our penultimate stop in the WHS Act for this week is Enforcement Measures, focussing specifically on notices.


An inspector may issue a written improvement notice requiring that a breach against the WHS Act or Regulations be corrected withing a certain timeframe. An improvement notice can also be issued to prevent a likely breach. An improvement notice may also include directions and/or recommendations about how to fix or prevent a breach. A person issued with an improvement notice must comply with the notice. A person issued with an improvement notice may seek to extend the compliance period for the notice, but only if the period has not ended.


A prohibition notice is a notice issued by an inspector prohibiting an activity at a workplace from continuing or being carried out in a specific way. Prohibition notices may be issued if an inspector reasonably believes that the activity presents a serious risk to a person’s health or safety from an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard.

Issued to the person with control of the activity, prohibition notices may include directions on how to remedy the risk. At first the notice may be given orally but must be confirmed by written notice issued to the person as soon as practicable. A person issued with a prohibition notice must comply with the notice (including any notice given orally). The notice will also remain in place until an inspector is satisfied that the risk has been fixed.


A non-disturbance notice is a written notice issued by an inspector requiring a person with management or control of a workplace to preserve a ‘notifiable

incident’ site or prevent disturbance of a particular site (including the operation of plant) in certain circumstances. It may only be issued if the inspector reasonably believes that it is necessary to do so to facilitate the exercise of their compliance powers.

A notice may require the person to preserve the site or prevent disturbance for up to seven days and must include the measures to be taken to do so.

A non-disturbance notice does not prevent any action required to:

  • protect a person’s health or safety,
  • help someone who is injured, or
  • make the site safe.


A person issued with a notice must as soon as possible display a copy of the notice in a prominent place at or near the workplace where work affected by the notice is being carried out.

It is an offence to intentionally remove, destroy, damage, or deface a notice that is required to be displayed while the notice is in force.


If a person fails to take reasonable steps to comply with a prohibition notice, then the regulator may take any acceptable remedial action to make the workplace or situation safe. Written notice has to be given to the person of the regulator’s intention, and information about the owner’s or person’s liability for the costs of that action.

*Disclaimer: Please note this communication is provided for general information purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice, only a Legal Practicing Professional can provide legal advice.