Western Australia moves a (small) step closer to a national health and safety system

The Western Australian Government has said that a version of the national model Work Health and Safety  legislation will be introduced in draft form in the current session of Parliament.

Commerce Minister Hon Michael Mischin MLC says that a 'green bill' will be introduced and will be open for public comment until the end of the year. The Minister's statement follows the publication of a regulatory impact statement on the model WHS Regulations.

Harmonisation of Australia's health and safety legislation has been on the agenda for many years, and it seems reasonably evident that having separate legislation in different states is neither efficient nor does it necessarily result in better safety outcomes.

While the state and commonwealth governments have got as far as establishing a tripartite body -- Safe Work Australia -- to oversight national co-ordination and have developed a national model act and regulations, to date only New South Wales, Queensland, the Territories and the Commonwealth have implemented the model Work Health and Safety Act.

This means that firms operating in Western Australia as well as other jurisdictions must still comply with multiple regulatory systems.

From the information available at this time, it does not appear that Western Australia is about to embrace a completely national approach. The Minister's statement to Parliament indicates that the Government is not convinced of the benefits of uniformity, and commits only to  'develop a version of the model WHS legislation that is tailored to Western Australia’s environment.'

Further information about the Ministerial Statement and the Regulatory Impact Statement is available on the WorkSafe WA website.