New WHS Act: The Regulator

In case you haven’t heard we have a new Work Health and Safety Act 2020 (WHS Act) being implemented in Western Australia this year. Have you ever wondered who is responsible for the administration of the WHS Act? As a business owner or PCBU it is important to know who that is and what their role is regarding the administration of the act. So this week we are going to introduce you to the Regulator…


Who is the regulator?

The WorkSafe Commissioner is the regulator under the WHS Act.

What are the responsibilities of the regulator?

The WorkSafe Commissioner will be responsible to the Minister for Industrial Relations for the administration of the WHS Act and any other law relating to work health and safety administered by the Minister.

What are the functions of the regulator?

The regulator has a broad range of functions, including:

  • monitoring and enforcing compliance with the WHS Act (and regulations)
  • investigating and reporting on matters relating to work health and safety, including particular types of hazards and matters relating to particular industries or particular businesses or undertakings
  • providing advice and information on work health and safety to duty holders and the community
  • collecting, analysing, and publishing statistics relating to work health and safety
  • fostering a cooperative, consultative relationship between duty holders and the people to whom they owe work health and safety duties, and their representatives
  • promoting and supporting education and training on matters relating to work health and safety
  • engaging in, promoting, and coordinating the sharing of information to achieve the object of the WHS Act, including the sharing of information with other work health and safety regulators
  • conducting and defending legal proceedings under the WHS Act.


What power does the regulator have?

The regulator has powers to obtain information by written notice if it reasonably believes a person is capable of giving information, providing documents, or giving evidence:

  • in relation to a possible contravention of the WHS Act, or
  • that will assist in monitoring or compliance.

The written notice must be served on the person, requiring them to do one or more of the following:

  • provide a signed statement on the required matters within the time and in the manner specified in the notice
  • produce the required documents, including to request a copy or reproduction of documents that are stored in an electronic format
  • appear before a person appointed by the regulator at a reasonable time and place determined by that person and specified in the notice, and provide the required evidence orally, in writing or provide the documents.

The regulator may only require a person to appear in person after taking all reasonable steps to obtain the required information by other means.

The regulator may also, by written notice, require a PCBU to provide an independent report on WHS matters at a workplace.

It is an offence to refuse or fail to comply with a request without reasonable excuse. However, a person may refuse to produce a document or information that is subject to legal professional privilege.

While the regulator may compel answers, self-incriminating answers to questions or information provided cannot be used as evidence against an individual in proceedings, other than proceedings arising out of the false or misleading nature of the answer, information, or document.


Documents provided to, or obtained by the regulator, may be retained for the period considered necessary by the regulator. The regulator may also take extracts and make copies or reproductions of documents.

*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.