Health and Safety Legislation in Western Australia
Western Australia is among the six states of Australia which occupies one third of its entire west. The part of Australia is surrounded by the Indian Ocean from north to west, with Great Australian Bight and southern ocean to the south. Western Australia has the largest area than the other states however it has a lesser population settled in the remote location of the state. 92% population of the state is said to have settled in the south-west.
Each state of the continent has its own parliament with lower houses pronounced as Legislative assemblies and upper houses as legislative councils. Head of government in each state is pronounced as a Premier and the queen is given the status of governor of the state.
In Australia, each state has developed and enforced its own occupational, health and safety legislation. Each state has the power to pass its own health and safety Acts. The legislation of the state has the wisdom to do following:
- establish general standards for safety
- provide rights to workers
- Aware employees of the state for health and safety at the workplace.
The Legislation of the state disagrees with model workplace health and safety (WHS) act which forms the basis of the WHS Acts that has been accepted across Australia to enforce work health and safety law in accordance. The WHS relates to the following:
- Penalty levels
- Union right of entry
- Health and safety representatives’ capacity to direct the cessation of work
- Reverse onus of proof in discrimination matters.
State Legislation also assists OHS compliance using guidance notes that provide detailed information on the requirements of statutes, regulations, standards and codes of practice. Currently the legislation has following acts enforced on the state:
- Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984
- Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996
- Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994
- Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995
- Workers Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981
- Workers Compensation and Injury Management (Acts of Terrorism) Act 2001
- Workers Compensation (Common Law Proceedings) Act 2004
- Workers Compensation and Injury Management Regulations 1982
The Occupational Safety and health act works under the administration of the Work Safe Western Australia Commission, an authority under the state’s department of commerce. Work Safe commission is responsible for the policy development, public education, complaints investigation, conducting inspections, facilitating mediation to ensure compliance and if necessary, prosecuting, licensing and registering entities and individuals to ensure that minimum standards are met.
Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984
Duties: All employees, controllers of the workplace, designers and manufacturers have duties of care as per the legislation. The designers and constructers of the infrastructure have the duty of care to design and take care of the hazards to the safety and health. The Agencies who break the law are subjected to prosecution.
Safety and Health representatives: Under the act the safety representatives are elected by the employees. Employers are allowed to consult the representative on OHS issues. Employees have the power to consult to an inspector where there is no safety representative.
The safety representatives have the ability to complain about discrimination by employees. Under such situation to save the safety representative the prosecution needs to convince the court that the performance of the safety and health functions was dominant.
The safety representatives have the wisdom to issue provisional improvement notices (PINs) where they believe an employer is breaking the act or regulation.
Refusal to work: Under the act, workers have the right to refuse to work, at a workplace, where there seems a safety or health hazard to them. However it is counted as an offence if the obligations are inspected and stated to be false. It is also counted as an offence if the workers deny performing additional tasks, other than the ones that pose harm to their health.
Penalties: As per the Work Safe commission someone who is convicted of the serious charges has to pay a penalty of $500,000 for first offence and $625,000 for the subsequent offence. A person accountable for causing any serious harms or death can be jailed for two years.