On 4 June 2020, a bill to amend the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) (Act) passed the NSW Parliament. The Work Health and Safety Amendment (Review) Bill 2020 (Bill) was then assented to on 10 June and the changes have now commenced.
Key points to note include the enhancement of a Category 1 offence which now includes gross negligence as well as reckless conduct and the change from monetary to penalty unit fines:
1 penalty unit = $100 increasing with CPI
For example, failing to wear PPE had a potential $6,000 fine, now it is 70 penalty units = $7,000; and the maximum fine for a category 1 breach for corporations is now 34,630 penalty units = $3,463,000 and 6,925 penalty units = $692,500 for an officer or individual as a PCBU.
There is also now the potential for work-related deaths to be prosecuted as manslaughter under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), with a maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment. The ACT, Northern Territory, Queensland, and Victoria, however, have the specific offence of industrial manslaughter.
For the WHS laws that apply in your state or territory, visit your jurisdictional WHS regulator’s website to learn more about whether amendments to the laws have been implemented in that jurisdiction.