Industrial manslaughter laws will be introduced nationally through the formal harmonisation process, repeat WHS offenders will be refused government contracts, and the WHS Act will be amended to ban insurance against fines, if recommendations from a parliamentary inquiry are adopted.
Tackling Australia's high workplace fatality rate hinges on proactively enforcing officers' due diligence obligations and improving the quality of investigations, according to leading health and safety lawyer Michael Tooma, who warns that industrial manslaughter provisions could drive negative behaviour.
Two amendment Bills increasing Western Australia's maximum work health and safety fines, to well above those for reckless conduct in the harmonised jurisdictions, have passed Parliament, and could take effect within days.
The powers of health and safety reps in one of Australia's most hazardous sectors must be stepped up and aligned with those in the model WHS Act to combat a "culture of fear and reprisal", an inquiry has found. However, Government members of the inquiry warn against harmonisation "simply for the sake of consistency".
The model WHS laws could be amended to increase the focus on psychological health, with the public consultation process for the ongoing review of the laws identifying widespread concerns over this issue and the absence of a "notification trigger" for psychological injuries.
WHS consultants, lawyers and occupational hygienists will have an explicit duty to ensure their services don't create health and safety risks at client sites, if recommendations on the development of a harmonised WHS Bill are adopted in Western Australia.