The introduction of a new health and safety act brings major changes to the responsibilities of WA employers towards their workers. Around forty codes of practice have been amended or added, with new Codes of Practice written to cover psychosocial hazards and mental health for FIFO workers. Written in consultation with representatives from the industry, community and union the codes are designed to improve working conditions on mine sites and other workplaces as part of the McGowan government’s $1.9m Mental Awareness, Respect and Safety initiative

A significant modification is the replacement of ‘employer’ to ‘Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking’ which can cover anyone from a sole trader, joint venture or not-for-profit to public authority. Other changes include the expansion of the concept of Worker to include contractors, sub-contractors, labour hire employees and other workers on site. The definition of Workplace is also expanded. 

The alteration brings contractors and sub-contractors who are employed by third parties under the same Work Health and Safety (WHS) umbrella as employees. Large entities such as mining companies which contract out large parts of their operations to service providers will need to take ‘a much more active role in ensuring safety in the business’.

Any penalty incurred by WHS breaches will no longer be able to be covered by insurance, encouraging all businesses to be proactive in their health and safety strategies. One significant new regulation creates a duty to ‘identify hazards and for the duty holder to use the hierarchy of control to manage those hazards.’

In another change to industry-specific regulations, all new laws have been consolidated into just three sets of regulations with Work Health and Safety (Mines) Regulations 2022 one of the three categories. The laws are prescriptive, with clear procedural and administrative requirements. 

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The Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA, Unions WA and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA all come under the WA Commission for Occupational Safety and Health and were involved in the creation of these new codes. 

Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston said:

“The McGowan Government … is committed towards improving safety protocols for WA workers. These codes provide practical risk management guidance that can be tailored to the unique demands of each workplace.”

Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA CEO Chris Rodwell supported the new codes saying that businesses have continued to become more active and alert to the management of adverse mental health, and the codes provided practical guidance for businesses to follow on a number of issues. The unions were also pleased with the modernisation of the codes to provide better protection over a range of areas.  

Workplaces will be able to use the codes to review their current systems and ensure they are taking a risk-based approach to all potential hazards, with the new laws providing a ‘proactive and comprehensive approach’ to managing WHS.  


The new Work Health and Safety Act 2020 (WA), associated Regulations and Codes of Practice are now in effect – Are you ready? – HWL Ebsworth Lawyers


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