Safety Laws “woeful”

EAST Metropolitan MLC Alison Xamon has introduced a Bill to Parliament that she says aims to reform WA’s “woefully inadequate” workplace safety laws.

Ms Xamon said that in WA there was an average of one workplace-related death every 17 days and more than 3600 serious injuries each year.

The Greens MLC said her Occupational Safety and Health Amendment Bill sought to introduce industrial manslaughter legislation, which she said had precedent in the United Kingdom and the ACT.

She said the Bill proposed to introduce workplace safety improvement orders and increase maximum employer negligence penalties from $250,000 or two years’ jail to $3 million or 20 years’ jail.

Ms Xamon, who is also a lawyer, told the Eastern Reporter the “99 per cent” of employers who already addressed workplace safety would be unaffected by the proposed amendments.

But Housing Industry Association executive director John Dastlik said he did not agree with the notion of industrial manslaughter
“The idea of holding a principal employer up for manslaughter when something happens to an unsupervised sub-contractor is inequitable,” he said.

“Australian governments are working together to produce a national Act and you’ve got a WA MP trying to introduce legislation that won’t be in the national model.”

However, Unions WA occupational health and safety officer Linda Morich said she believed that several items in next year’s national model would be rejected by the Barnett Government, including increased employer negligence penalties.

She said Ms Xamon’s “fantastic” amendment Bill would “plug some holes” in the legislation.

Ms Xamon said any deviations from the national model should aim to encourage best practice workplace safety.

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