Tougher WHS penalties take effect

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Tougher WHS penalties take effect

The McGowan government has announced harsher penalties for workplace safety offences in Western Australia.

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The McGowan government has announced harsher penalties for workplace safety offences in Western Australia.

The legislation was passed by WA parliament in August this year and came into effect last week. 

The new laws provide increased maximum penalties under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994. This will ensure consistency with the national model Work Health and Safety Act.

Penalties to increase four-fold


Harsher penalties for offenders include increasing the maximum term of imprisonment from two years to five years as well as increased fines for body corporates.

Level 4 offences now attract a maximum $2.7 million penalty for first offenders and $3.5 million for subsequent offenders. This is a significant increase from the previous $500,000 and $625,000 penalties. Level 4 applies if gross negligence is involved. 

The maximum penalty for level 3 offences has increased from $400,000 to $2 million. Level 3 applies when the contravention results in death or serious harm. 

The level 2 penalty has increased from 200,000 to 1.5 million. This applies when there is a contravention, but it does not cause death or serious harm. 

Level 1 penalties have increased from $50,000 to $450,000 for first offenders and from $62,500 to $570,000 for subsequent offences.

Penalty levels are defined under s3A of the OHS Act and s4A of the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994

Mr McGowan also plans to introduce modernised safety laws in 2019. "The McGowan Government is working on modernising other workplace health and safety laws, which we hope to introduce to State Parliament next year."
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