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On 16 December 2015, Mr Lex McCulloch the WorkSafe Western Australia Commissioner announced the Department of Commerce – WorkSafe Division (WorkSafe) would be undertaking a review of the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations for adoption in Western Australia.
The key principles of the review were to identify where they could be modified to make them more suitable for the Western Australian working environment, minimise prescription and keep the burden of compliance at an acceptable level.
In 2008, Australian Governments agreed to harmonise work health and safety laws across the country. These laws consist of a model WHS Act, the model WHS regulations and model codes of practice. With the exception of Victoria and Western Australia, every State and Territory, and the Commonwealth, have implemented a version of the model WHS laws.
While the model WHS Act provides the overarching duties for workplace participants, the model WHS regulations provide detailed requirements for specific hazards and safe systems of work.
A regulatory impact statement (RIS) measuring the costs and benefits of the model WHS regulations in Western Australia was released in 2012 and is available on WorkSafe’s website.
On the basis of recommendations made in the RIS, and Government policy to minimise unnecessary prescription and keep the burden of compliance at an acceptable level, WorkSafe has produced proposals to amend the WHS regulations for Western Australia’s working environment. These proposals are provided in the Discussion Paper.
Further analysis of the costs and benefits may be required depending on the outcome of the public consultation.
The Discussion Paper provides information on recommendations to amend the model WHS regulations to ensure they are suitable for Western Australian workplaces. The model WHS Regulations that are not addressed in the Discussion Paper are intended to be adopted in their present form.
Western Australians with an interest in safety and health in the workplace are encouraged to make a submission on the recommendations in the Discussion Paper, or any other aspect of the model WHS regulations.
WorkSafe is particularly interested in detailed information on the costs and benefits of any proposal that advocates increasing the regulatory burden in Western Australia.
The public comment period begins on 1 June 2016 and ends at 5PM WST on 31 August 2016.
To assist you in making a submission WorkSafe had developed a number of products. Please note all submissions must be accompanied by a cover sheet. The closing date for submissions is 31 August 2016.
There is no fixed timeframe for adoption of the WHS laws in Western Australia and the timing will depend, in part, on the substance of the submissions received during the public comment period for the model WHS regulations.
The WHS Regulations for Western Australia will not come into effect until the new WHS Act is passed by Parliament and proclaimed. This will be accompanied by widespread advertising to inform workplace participants of the changes.
The final form of new laws has not been settled but their implementation will be coupled with transition periods to ensure that everyone involved will be able to adopt the new framework in a seamless manner.
It is important that businesses do not rush into undertaking any training at this stage in anticipation of the new laws.