Call for public comment on WA’s workplace safety laws

Western Australians are being given the opportunity to contribute to the State’s future workplace safety and health system following the tabling in Parliament of the draft Work Health and Safety Bill 2014 (‘the Green Bill’). WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch recently called for public comment on the Bill, the WA version of the national Model Work Health and Safety Bill, the harmonised legislation developed by Safe Work Australia for implementation across Australia. “The State Government announced in August that it intended to craft the best version of the legislation, adapted and suited to the Western Australian work environment,” Mr McCulloch said. “The Green Bill has been drafted to include the core provisions of the Model WHS Bill, but has been refined to reduce red tape and ensure it is in the best interests of WA businesses and the WA community. “While the State Government has long supported in principle the process of harmonising workplace safety legislation across Australia, it does not support uniformity for its own sake without giving thought to what is best for WA workplaces.” The WA Government has long had concerns with some areas of the proposed legislation, and three areas of the national Model WHS Bill have not been adopted in the WA version. They are:

  • Union right of entry – in WA, union right of entry for workplace safety reasons is provided under industrial relations legislation, and this is considered to be a more appropriate location than in workplace safety legislation;
  • Safety and health representatives’ capacity to direct the cessation of work – it is believed that the decision to refuse to continue working where there is a serious risk of harm should remain with the individual worker; and
  • Reverse onus of proof in discrimination matters – WA considers the inclusion of this section to be contrary to one of the issues that initiated the harmonisation process.

A number of other issues have since been identified, and modifications made in the WA version.

“We are now at the stage in the process where Western Australians with an interest in workplace safety have the opportunity to view the draft legislation and contribute their opinions on WA’s future laws,” Mr McCulloch said. “I strongly urge anyone with an interest in workplace safety to participate in the public comment process closing on January 30, 2015, thereby making a genuine contribution to the future of safety and health in WA workplaces.” A copy of the proposed legislation is available at: Green Bill and public comment process

Western Australia Department of Commerce, 23 October 2014 ;http:// ;