Occupational Health & Safety - UnionsWA2

Occupational Health & Safety

Covid-19 Information 

COVID-19 Workplace Resources are freely available here.

NEW IN 2022:  Work Health and Safety Act 

WA's new Work Health and Safety Act 2020 and Regulations, came into effect on 31 March, 2022. Click here for the latest.

If you'd like to read more about the campaign leading up to our new safety act, please click here.

You may also like to read news from our Work Health and Safety Network page here.

If you would like to be kept up-to-date by email about Work Health and Safety issues, please sign onto our email list here.

Health and Safety Representatives + Safety Training 

Why do workers need to be represented by safety representatives in the workplace?

In October 1995, the government changed the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act so that occupational safety and health matters could not be dealt with as an industrial issue.  The Industrial Relations Commission cannot deal with workplace safety and health issues.  This change placed a far greater emphasis on the role of a safety and health representative in a workplace. Our new Work Health and Safety Act of 2020 (which came into effect from 31.03.22) further enhances the role of Health and Safety Representatives (HSR) - (which replaces the term Safety and Health Representative). 

Health and Safety Representatives have powers to perform their role under the law. This is in contrast to the role played by union delegates.  Both roles complement each other however. Health and Safety Representatives powers and functions are listed in section 68 of the Work Health and Safety Act.  Learn more by clicking here

Safety and health representatives are key players on safety committees and must comprise at least 50% of the committee.  They also have the ability to issue a Provisional Improvement Notice (PIN).  Representatives have a significant role in the resolution of issues in the workplace.

At this point in history it is particularly important for unions to continue to establish and maintain a substantial role in the workplace.  Worker surveys conducted throughout Australia consistently show OH&S as one of the highest rated priorities for workers.

To find out more about the important role of a Safety Rep, including Training for Safety Reps, click here.

If you are not a member of a union but wish to join, please click here.

Occupational/Work Health and Safety Agencies

There are a number different agencies who oversee occupational/work health and safety in Western Australia. All have separate areas of jurisdiction within Western Australia.

These agencies are

  • WorkSafe WA (+ Work Health and Safety Commission)
  • Resources Safety
  • National Office Petroleum Safety Administration (NOPSEMA)
  • Comcare

WorkSafe WA 

WorkSafe | Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (commerce.wa.gov.au)

WorkSafe is the WA Government Agency responsible for health and safety in WA Workplaces. The vast majority of workers in WA are covered by WorkSafe.

WorkSafe enforces the current Work Health and Safety Act 2020 and has the power to inspect work sites and investigate health and safety breaches.

Work Health and Safety Commission 

Website: Work Health and Safety Commission | Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (commerce.wa.gov.au)

UnionsWA has three representatives on the Commission for Work Health and Safety and they work hard to argue for best practice laws and regulations and to ensure a genuine voice for workers. 

Resources Safety

Resources Safety covers employees in the minerals industry and enforces the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 (WA) and Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995 (WA).

Workers in the Resources Industry as well as workers in some port operations are covered by this agency.

National Office Petroleum Safety Administration

The National Office Petroleum Safety Administration is responsible for all offshore areas within commonwealth waters.


Comcare is responsible for Australian Government employees including defence and other federal public servants as well as organisations that self-insure under the scheme.

A list of current self-insured organisations can be found here.


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