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News News Barnett Government opts to protect employers, not safety for WA workers

Every state in Australia except Western Australia will adopt national harmonised health and safety laws.

 

"The only provisions which Troy Buswell has said they will not support in the harmonsised health and safety laws are those to benefit employers," UnionsWA Simone McGurk said.  

 

"The Barnett State Government has backed big business and in the process compromised safety for Western Australian workers."

 

A meeting of state and federal Workplace Relations Ministers held earlier this week approved the creation of consistent health and safety laws to operate from 2012.

 

However, the West Australian State Government has said it will not adopt the harmonised laws in a number of key areas.

 

"This is embarrassing for WA and bad for workers and business alike," UnionsWA Secretary Simone McGurk said. 

 

Business groups such as the Business Council of Australia has welcomed the hamonised laws, but called on Western Australia to speed its progress towards fully participating in the national system.

 

Having different occupational health and safety laws for business operating across state boarders were cited as one of the main reasons for harmonisation.

 

The WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry, unions, WorkSafe and industry experts participated in every phase in the development of these model laws, but despite this Troy Buswell is still opting out of a number of key elements of the new laws:

 

  • Harsher penalties for employers breaching OSH law. Current penalties for killing a worker in WA are far too low, with the maximum penalty for a second offence being $625,000. Other states will now have a maximum penalty of $3 million. How is this not justified in a state where the world's biggest mining companies are operating?

 

  • The ability to cease work. Every worker has that right now, although many don't know it.  The new laws would have allowed for both workers and trained health and safety reps to direct workers in their area to stop working if there is serious and imminent harm. This would be of great benefit for every workplace,  but particularly in industries employing young or less experienced workers.

 

"The WA public expects the best possible laws to protect people at work," Simone McGurk said.

 

But Troy Buswell and the State Government have opted for partisan provisions to protect employers, not health and safety for West Australian workers."

 

 
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