Prison sentences and industrial manslaughter proposals recommended for WA

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Prison sentences and industrial manslaughter proposals recommended for WA

Prison sentences for OHS breaches, making senior officers accountable for workplace deaths and larger fines are just three of the recommendations contained in the long-awaited review of WA's OHS Act.

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Prison sentences for OHS breaches, making senior officers accountable for workplace deaths and larger fines are just three of the recommendations contained in the long-awaited review of WA's OHS Act.

Other proposals among the 107 recommendations of the Laing review include amending the Act to hold 'negligent senior officers of corporations ... accountable for the death or serious injury of employees', and making state government departments and agencies liable to prosecution under the Act.

The Laing review also recommends on-the-spot fines and giving trained workplace representatives the ability to issue temporary 'safety alerts' forcing employers to act on the safety concerns of workers.

The review of the state's occupational safety and health laws was tabled in Parliament this week by WA's Consumer and Employment Protection Minister, John Kobelke.

He said that while the review 'is a statutory requirement conducted every five years ... it is timely that the Act be updated given the need to further improve workplace safety in Western Australia.'

'This review has come up with a set of recommendations that have the potential to greatly improve occupational safety and health in this state.'

Other recommendations include:

  • Amending the Act to include a requirement to identify hazards, assess the risk associated with those hazards and reduce or control such risks as a duty of employers, self-employed persons and persons in control of workplaces.
  • That the Commission develop a code of practice or guidance note covering the duties of principals and contractors, including guidelines for establishing safety requirements in contracts.
  • Amending the Act to provide that 'manufacturers, etc be made responsible for the repair, removal or alteration of reasonably foreseeable hazards in plant supplied to a workplace'.
  • That the Act 'should apply employers' obligations to persons who are employed under labour only arrangements and subject to the direction and control of employers or principals'.
  • That the Act provide coverage for police officers.
  • That the Commission and WorkSafe develop sentencing guidelines for offences under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984: 'If necessary, specific provision should be made in the Act for sentencing guidelines to be issued by an appropriate authority.'
  • That the Act be amended to provide for a mandatory on-the-spot fine (subject to an appeal mechanism) for failing to comply with an Improvement Notice by the due date.

The minister said he would ask WorkSafe Western Australia Commission to provide advice on implementation of the recommendations by the end of January 2003.

He has also invited 'other interested parties to make submissions by that time so that I can take a final position to Cabinet for appropriate legislative amendment shortly thereafter'.

Mr Laing is also reviewing the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 and this report is expected within the next few weeks.

His recommendations on the structure of health and safety regulation and inspection in the two jurisdictions will have to be considered as an integrated package.

To read his full report, visit the WorkSafe website.

 

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