Observational Discussion – Significant changes to WHS Legislation in WA – Incident Notification

With the update to Western Australia’s Safety legislation, Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2020, 31st March 2022, there have been significant changes. From our experience during site visits, many do not appear to be aware of the changes, in particular, the following.

The current WA WHS Act (2020), Part 3 – Incident Notification now identifies a Dangerous Incident (Section 37) states;

dangerous incident means an incident in relation to a workplace that exposes a worker or any other person to a serious risk to a person’s health or safety emanating from an immediate or imminent exposure to —

(a) an uncontrolled escape, spillage or leakage of a substance; or

(b) an uncontrolled implosion, explosion or fire; or

(c) an uncontrolled escape of gas or steam; or

(d) an uncontrolled escape of a pressurised substance; or

(e) electric shock; or

(f) the fall or release from a height of any plant, substance or thing; or

(g) the collapse, overturning, failure or malfunction of, or damage to, any plant that is required to be authorised for use in accordance with the regulations; or

(h) the collapse or partial collapse of a structure; or

(i) the collapse or failure of an excavation or of any shoring supporting an excavation; or

(j) the inrush of water, mud or gas in workings, in an underground excavation or tunnel; or

(k) the interruption of the main system of ventilation in an underground excavation or tunnel; or

(l) any other event prescribed by the regulations but does not include an incident of a prescribed kind.

Note: Sections 35 and 36 identifies the previous ‘notifiable incidents’ , being death of a person and a serious injury or illness and other relevant requirements etc.

As you see, there are now quite a few additional notification requirements, some quite specific. All new and as you can see an incident doesn’t actually have to occur for notification “an incident in relation to a workplace that exposes a worker or any other person to a serious risk to a person’s health or safety emanating from an immediate or imminent exposure”. In effect, if there was a potential for injury, harm, damage etc, this is still recordable and reportable.

Note: Several of the above dangerous incidents appear general in determining ‘serious risk’. Could that be a deliberate design feature to encourage industries to assess risk more rigorously and / or to notify more?

What are your thoughts?

To date, based on all our inspections and audits since the enacting of the current legislation (enacted March 30th 2022) no organisation has updated their systems to capture the new requirements nor educated their workers.

If you would like more information or a review of your incident management processes, please contact us.

https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe/report-incident-0

Stuart Platt

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