WHS Act Introduction

January 2022 marks not only the start of a brand New Year but it also etches us closer to the long discussed and anticipated new Work Health and Safety Act in Western Australia, due to be enacted March 2022.

But what exactly does this WHS Act actually mean to you and your business?

We know new legislation can be overwhelming, so we have put together some content for you that we hope will give you a starting point to help you understand what this all means for you and your business.

So, let’s get started…

The Work Health and Safety Act 2020 (WHS Act) was passed by Parliament on 3 November 2020.

The new WHS Act will be implemented in 2022 and all WA workplaces will come under this single Act, which will replace the following legislation:

  • Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984

It will also replace the Work Health and Safety elements of the following Acts, covering mining and petroleum:

  • Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994
  • Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967
  • Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1982
  • Petroleum Pipelines Act 1969

These new laws are largely based on the national model WHS Act used in other states and territories (except Victoria), so companies will have similar obligations and requirements across Australia.

The transitional arrangements will provide sufficient time for duty holders to adapt their safe systems of work to the new requirements.

The WHS Act will be supported by three sets of regulations:

  • Work Health and Safety (General) Regulations – applies to all workplaces except those covered by the other two sets of regulations [WHS General Regulations]
  • Work Health and Safety (Mines) Regulations – applies to mining and mineral exploration operations [WHS Mines Regulations]
  • Work Health and Safety (Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Operations) Regulations – applies to onshore and offshore petroleum, pipeline and geothermal energy operations [WHS PAGEO Regulations].

The WHS Act aims to:

  • protect the health and safety of workers and other people by eliminating or minimising risks arising from work or workplaces
  • ensure fair and effective representation, consultation, and cooperation to address and resolve health and safety issues in the workplace
  • encourage unions and employer organisations to take a constructive role in improving work health and safety practices
  • assist businesses and workers to achieve a healthier and safer working environment
  • promote information, education and training on work health and safety
  • provide effective compliance and enforcement measures
  • deliver continuous improvement and progressively higher standards of work health and safety.

In furthering these aims, regard must be had to the principle that workers and other persons should be given the highest level of protection against harm to their health, safety and welfare from hazards and risks arising from work as is reasonably practicable.

For these purposes, ‘health’ includes psychological health as well as physical health.

Over the next few weeks we’ll post some information on a few of the key elements of the new WHS Act, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us.

*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.