WA employers now face hefty fines and/or jail time

Employers could face up to 20 years behind bars and $10 million in fines if they are found responsible for a workplace death under new state laws which come into effect on Thursday.

Under the new Work Health and Safety Act, first passed through the upper house in 2020, industrial manslaughter will now be recognised in court and will carry a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment, a $5 million fine for an individual, and a $10 million fine for a corporate body.

Psychosocial hazards will also be recognised under the new act, the first time in 38 years Western Australia’s workplace safety laws have been updated.

Insurance will no longer cover penalties, ensuring businesses and management are held accountable for their actions and are responsible for financial penalties.

Unions and advocates campaigned heavily for the change, hopeful increased penalties would result in fewer preventable workplace accidents and deaths.

Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston said it was a “historic day” and the new laws reflected the social obligations and responsibilities expected from companies and their senior management.

“We’re the first state or territory to amalgamate the safety regulation of effectively all work sites across the state,” he said.

“So that’s general workplaces, mining workplaces, and oil and gas workplaces, that will be covered by the same set of obligations.”

Mr Johnston credited the work done by families left behind for the new laws.

Source: WA Today

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