Western Australia cracks down on worker safety

Western Australia has launched a $12.9 million initiative to protect workers through new workplace safety laws and safety initiatives.

Twenty-four additional full-time equivalent staff, including 21 additional inspectors, will be employed by WorkSafe.

This brings the total number of inspectors to 120, bringing Western Australia in-line with New South Wales and Queensland, with a ratio of 1.0 full-time equivalent inspectors per 10,000 employees.

Inspectors will conduct more safety inspections, enforce workplace safety, provide more education and awareness support, and investigate fatal and serious incidents.

Better Worker Safety, a new worker safety campaign, will be developed. The campaign aims to put safety front of mind and improve workplace safety and health outcomes.

A new Work Health and Safety Bill will modernise workplace safety laws, better protect workers and hold those responsible for any workplace deaths accountable.

The main features of the bill are the introduction of two new offences for industrial manslaughter.

Industrial manslaughter class one is the most serious offence which includes a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment for an individual conducting or undertaking a business.

Meanwhile, industrial manslaughter class two includes a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment for negligent behaviour.

The new offences will also carry a fine of up to $10 million for a body corporate.

Western Australia premier Mark McGowan said safety was one of his highest priorities.

“The death of one worker is one too many, it’s time we introduce industrial manslaughter laws to make sure Western Australians are protected at work,” McGowan said.

“Prison time sends a powerful message, but we don’t want it to come to that.

“We would much rather everyone came home safe from work, and that’s why we are boosting the number of safety inspectors, to put more cops on the beat.”