As of 3 October, Western Australia’s Occupational Safety and Health Amendment Act 2018 and Mines Safety and Inspection Amendment Act 2018 are in effect. This means that Western Australian employers can be fined up to $3.5 million (up from $625,000), for repeat level 4 safety breaches. Individuals can also be fined $680,000 and jailed for five years (up from $312,500 and two years).
The fines are now Australia’s second highest maximum work health and safety fine, behind Queensland’s $10 million fine for industrial manslaughter.
The sharp increase comes after the Government of Western Australia committed to harsher fines in August last year. At the time, the state was under pressure to bring its controversially low work safety fines into line with other states and territories, and to safety fines better reflected the importance of a safe workplace.
The Amendment Bills for general industry and mines passed through Parliament last month. The new penalties are aligned with the national model WHS Act, with an additional 14 per cent added for inflation.
Premier Mark McGowan said that he was pleased the new laws have come into effect.
“The significant increases reflect the seriousness of ensuring the safety of Western Australian workers,” he said, “all workers have the right to return home safely from work, and my Government is committed to improving workplace health and safety laws.”
Acting Commerce and Industrial Relations Minister Francis Logan also said that he is confident the new penalties will meet community expectations and improve safety in the Western Australian workplace.
“The McGowan Government is working on modernising other workplace health and safety laws, which we hope to introduce to State Parliament next year,” Mr Logan shared.
The current bill is available to download here.