UnionsWA has today welcomed the passage by the Legislative Council of the Work Health and Safety Bill 2019.
Owen Whittle, Assistant Secretary UnionsWA said:
“This is an historic occasion.
“WA will go from having the weakest and most outdated workplace safety laws to having the best in Australia.
“Our workplace safety Act in WA has been virtually unchanged for more than 30 years.
“Passed with amendments by the Legislative Council, it is now just a matter of its passage in the Legislative Assembly.
“Rightly, the headline reform has been the introduction, for the first time in WA, of an offence of industrial manslaughter.
“If a negligent driver causing a fatal accident can be charged with manslaughter, so too should an employer that badly mismanages a dangerous workplace.
“The families of loved ones who have been killed through work deserve acknowledgement for their tireless efforts.
“There will be no justice for their family member lost, but there is now a greater likelihood that there will be justice for others in future.
“Most importantly, this clear message in law will reduce workplace fatalities.
“Less contentious but also very important have been reforms in this Bill that acknowledge mental health impacts from work, improve standards of training for workplace safety representatives, provide vital whistle blower protections and the closure of a loophole that allowed employers to insure so that they never have to pay penalties for unlawful conduct.
“A criminal should not be able to insure themselves against penalties.
“As with any significant reform there are many who deserve to be acknowledged.
“Many governments in the past have discussed harmonising and updating WA’s workplace safety laws with those across the nation, but it has taken a determined McGowan Labor Government, guided by Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston to achieve this important outcome.
“In the Legislative Council the Greens including the Hon Alison Xamon MLC who has responsibility for this area, have been early supporters which is much appreciated.
"The Western Australia Party and the Hon Charles Smith MLC have been supportive of workplace safety reform without which this Bill would been much weaker.
“I shall thank last, those that are, frankly, most important – those working women and men who have committed to their rights at work by joining their union and being active in their workplaces.
“Workplace rights such as those for safety, are won by disciplined struggle over many years by union members and that has true for this reform.”