​Can a union enter a workplace without notice?

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​Can a union enter a workplace without notice?

Can a union enter a workplace without notice if it suspects a breach of WHS laws?

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Can a union enter a workplace without notice if it suspects a breach of WHS laws?

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Q We are based in Western Australia and wanted to clarify what changes might be made to proposed WHS laws for the state. Will unions have a right of entry to a workplace, with no notice, if they suspect a breach of WHS laws?

A No, a union's right of entry to a workplace with no notice, if it suspects a breach of WHS laws, is at this stage a proposed change, not a confirmed change. 

Regarding union right of entry to a workplace, the recommendation of the Ministerial Advisory Panel is to make the law in WA consistent with all the other harmonised jurisdictions. That is, no prior notice would be required if the entry permit holder is entering to investigate a suspected contravention.

The entry permit holder would, however, be required to give notice as soon as practicable after entering the workplace, unless giving notice would defeat the purpose of the entry to the workplace or unreasonably delay the WHS entry permit holder in an urgent case.

The proposals for amendments to the model WHS Bill for adoption in WA set out the proposed notice requirements as follows:

Notice requirement: As soon as practicable after entering the workplace in relation to a suspected contravention of the Act or Regulations: 
  • to investigate the suspected contravention
  • to consult with workers and the PCBU
  • inspect things such as plant, substances or structures, and 
  • make copies of relevant documents. 
Notice requirement: At least 24 hours but not more than 14 days prior to entry:
  • to examine employee records or information held by another person, in relation to a suspected contravention, and 
  • when consulting with and advising workers on safety and health matters generally.The WA Government is currently seeking comments on the proposals. The closing date for comments is 31 August 2018 at 5PM.
The WA government is currently seeking comments on the proposals. The closing date for comments is 31 August 2018 at 5pm.

Information about how to make a comment is on the website of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.
 
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