Compliance with WA WHS Act 2020

WA’s new Work and Health Safety laws

Minister Stephen Dawson MLC made a Brief Ministerial Statement in Parliament advising that the Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws will come into effect on 31 March 2022. Originally scheduled for January 2022, the new laws will bring together work health and safety for general industry, mines and petroleum and geothermal operations under a single WHS Act.

Western Australia has joined other states and territories in implementing the national model work health and safety laws. 
This Act is the biggest jump of WHS laws in Western Australia in decades. The Act will replace the current OSH Act 1984 and parts of some other legislation, including the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 and the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967.
The new laws are intended to improve the protection of workers with modern employment agreements, higher penalties and introducing the term person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), and more

What are the key changes?

There are several major changes in WHS Act 2020, the most preponderant ones are:

  • Higher penalties;
  • Introducing the term PCBU;
  • Industrial Manslaughter;
  • External WHS Advisors can be prosecuted in the same way as a business owner;
  • Definition of “health” includes psychological health;
  • Broader concept of a “worker” includes: contractors, subcontractors, and the employees of contractors and sub-contractors


All penalties are increase, but the most preponderant one is industrial manslaughter penalty. 
The current maximum penalty for a company is $2.7 million, but under the new WHS Act is $10 million. You can see below the comparison of the penalties between the current act and the new one. 

WHS Act Penalties
PenaltiesOSH Act 1984WHS Act 2020
Max for Industrial Manslaughter – Individual$550.000 + 5 years prison time$5 million + 20 years prison time 
Max for Industrial Manslaughter – Company $2.7 million $10 million 
Max for a company that causes death or serious injury$2 million$3.5 million


PCBU is a new term to WA’s WHS laws and stands for Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking and must meet obligations to ensure the health and safety of their workers, visitors and volunteers. 

 PCBU can be a:

    • Corporation
    • Association
    • Partnership
    • Sole trader
    • Volunteer organisation that employs people to carry out work
    • Local government council
    • Independent school
    • Government department and authorities

See the definition here

Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS)

Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 (regulations), r 3.143

Section 3.143 of the regulations requires that all high-risk construction work done, or to be done, at the site must be covered by a SWMS. Persons who have day-to-day on-site control of high risk construction work must provide the main contractor with a SWMS or, failing that, the main contractor must prepare the necessary SWMS and keep it up to date.

The main contractor must ensure that high-risk construction work, as far as practicable, is carried out in accordance with the SWMS. If work is not carried out in accordance with the SWMS, the work must cease until the SWMS is complied with.

SWMS must be in writing and, as far as practicable, set out:

  • each high-risk construction work activity that is or includes a hazard
  • the risk of injury or harm to a person resulting from any such hazards
  • the safety measures to be implemented to reduce the risk, including the control measures which are genuinely based on the hierarchy of controls
  • a description of the equipment to be used in the work activity
  • the qualifications and training (if any) required for persons doing the work

How Can We Help You

The JSEAsy Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Software is easy to use with all EHS documentation in one location. 

JSEAsy Safety Management Software comes preloaded with hundreds of different SWMS templates for a myriad industries and jobs. 

  • Fulfil the requirements of the new WHS Act and regulations for Western Australia (WA)
  • Automatic references and insertion of Acts and Regulations based on wherever you setup your job if you are working across borders
  • Fully compliant
  • All Industries are included
  • Fully customised

You can choose JSEAsy Premium or JSEAsy Standard. See below which version suits you better: