Workplace Health and Safety Green Bill tabled in Parliament and open for public comment

Yesterday afternoon saw the new Workplace Health and Safety Bill 2014 tabled in Parliament by the Hon Michael Mischin, and then opened for public consultation.

Since the release of the national Model WHS Bill in 2011, WA has anticipated the introduction of its own version of the bill, or the implementation of the Model Bill’s provisions. On 23 October 2014, the Workplace Health and Safety Bill 2014 was tabled in the form of a Green Bill.

Before being debated by the legislature, the Green Bill is open for public consultation between 23 October 2014 and 30 January 2015. The Green Bill does not represent the Government’s settled position with respect to new safety legislation and was tabled and released yesterday to allow the consultation phase to occur.

The Green Bill can be found here WHS Bill 2014 – Open for Public Comment.

The most significant changes in the model bill, as compared to the legislation currently applicable in Western Australia, are:

  • Changes to the definition of “employee” to “worker” – resulting in the inclusion of volunteers and contractors;
  • Changes to the definition of “employer” to “person conducting a business or undertaking” (a ‘PCBU’) – extending the primary duties of the traditional employee/employer relationship to include the PCBU’s responsibility towards persons other than employees;
  • Extending the definition of the “workplace” to reflect the more flexible working arrangements now commonly utilised;
  • Extending the personal liability of “officers” of a PCBU, by utilising the definition of “officer” provided in the Corporations Act 2001; and
  • Increased criminal penalties for breaches of the legislation.

Kott Gunning’s Employment Law and Workplace Health and Safety Team are intending on submitting formal comments on the Green Bill during the consultation period. We welcome any contributions to the submission and encourage you to contact Tim Lethbridge or Josephine Hart on (08) 9321 3755 for further information.