WHS Bill adds new dimension to managing workplace risk

Chris Rodwell

CCIWA CEO

CCIWA acknowledges that the State Government has passed its Workplace Health and Safety Bill into law.

Any workplace tragedy is one too many. It is unimaginable for the families left behind. That’s why CCIWA has always promoted cooperative measures that have made WA workplaces progressively safer over the years, reducing the rate of serious workplace accidents by 62 per cent, to the point that this is among the safest States in which to work.

However hundreds of WA businesses have expressed deep concerns about these new laws, which can enforce criminal penalties without the requirement of a criminal standard of conduct, without a criminal standard of prosecution and without Director of Public Prosecution oversight. The Government’s own Committee on Legislative Matters acknowledged the issues with the Bill, which creates the lowest standard of any State for criminal penalties to be imposed for workplace accidents. It’s important to recognise this reality and that no other jurisdiction in Australia takes this approach.

It’s critical to point out that the business community does not oppose criminal penalties for actual criminal negligence. Such provisions already exist and indeed have been replicated, unopposed, in the new Act.

Despite important amendments being achieved by members of the Opposition and crossbench, the Government’s laws still expose hardworking business owners who have not been reckless and have not been irresponsible in their actions, to years in prison locked away from their families.

Doing business in WA will have a new dimension of risk. CCIWA will work day in, day out with our members to ensure our State continues to strengthen its safety record. It’s critical every Australian worker returns home safely.

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