The Western Australian government has commenced a public consultation process on the proposed Work Health and Safety Regulations. A Discussion Paper has been published that invites submissions from all Western Australians who are interested in work health and safety, with a particular focus on the costs and benefits of the proposed regulations to businesses and workers. The public comment period ends on 31 August 2016.

Background

Using the approach adopted in relation to the Work Health and Safety Bill 2014, WorkSafe have developed recommendations to adapt the model Work Health and Safety regulations (Model Regulations) with a focus on minimising prescription and keeping the burden of compliance at an acceptable level.

Overview of proposed changes

The proposed WA Work Health and Safety Regulations (Proposed Regulations) mirror the Model Regulations in many respects; however, there are several keys areas that are proposed to be modified to better suit the Western Australian working environment.

Some areas of the Model Regulations are proposed to be amended where there is no evidence that the likely increased compliance burden associated with them will achieve improved safety outcomes. These areas will be amended to more closely align them with the current requirements of WA's Occupational Safety and Health laws (Current Laws) and include:

  • the training requirements to be considered a competent person;
  • the arrangements for licensing assessors to conduct clearance inspections for licensed asbestos removal work; and
  • the requirements to create and retain specified records.

Some Current Laws requirements that do not appear in the Model Regulations are also proposed to be included in the Proposed Regulations. These include:

  • a prohibition on tobacco smoke in the workplace; and
  • commercial vehicle driver regulations.

Not all of the provisions unique to the Current Laws have been recommended for inclusion in the Proposed Regulations. Where it is considered that the general duty and appropriate guidance material is sufficient to maintain current safety standards it is not proposed to include specific additional regulations. Examples include the requirements for:

  • abrasive blasting; and
  • spray painting booths.

It is also anticipated that the model Codes of Practice and other guidance material will be adopted with appropriate modifications.

More details and how to make a submission

A Discussion Paper is available here that includes a table of recommendations (Appendix A) that classifies the recommendations according to whether they are consistent with the Current Laws, reduce unnecessary prescription or are consistent with the Work Health and Safety Bill 2014.

This consultation process is a welcome step forward in WA's move to modernisation. This is likely to be the final opportunity for Western Australians to provide input into the shaping of the regulations that will govern work health and safety for general industry.

As the Discussion Paper notes it is necessary to obtain robust evidence of the impact of the proposed changes in the Model Regulations, so it is important when preparing submissions to include quantitative information where possible on the likely benefits, impediments and/or costs of the proposed changes.

The public consultation period ends on 31 August 2016.