In an effort to harmonise the Work Health & Safety (WHS) regimes across Australia, Western Australia has now passed legislation to update its Work Health and Safety Act 2020 (WA), (the Act).
Workplace Health & Safety Overhaul
The new laws will likely come into place in April 2021. This will include several changes, with the most notable being the Industrial Manslaughter Legislation:
If a ‘Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking’ (PCBUs) is engaging in conduct knowing the conduct is likely to cause death “or serious harm” to an individual, the crime will now carry potential imprisonment term for up to 20 years and a fine up to $5,000,000 for an individual person and up to $10,000,000 for a body corporate.
Critical Actions for Directors & Officers
These new changes are intended to make safety front of mind and help prevent any future fatalities from occurring.
Under the new legislation, it is important to note that officers can also be charged for crimes committed by a PCBU in certain circumstances, including when the PCBU’s conduct was attributable to the officer’s neglect, or engaged in with the officer’s consent or connivance.
Officers (in particular) should ensure they understand their obligations with respect to the PCBU’s WHS duties and officer due diligence.
What about Insurance?
Up until now, companies could transfer the risk of these penalties via insurance, however this will now be prohibited going forward. Companies will therefore need to ensure that policies offering WHS Penalties cover are not entered into.
We’re with you all the way
To find out more about these changes, feel free to reach out at any time.
Head of Client Services (WA)
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