MAJOR WORKPLACE SAFETY REFORMS IN NSW AND WA

Two significant pieces of legislation have passed in New South Wales (NSW) and Western Australia. In NSW, the Work Health and Safety Amendment Bill 2023 has been approved, which substantially increases fines and jail terms for category-1 breaches related to workplace safety. It also grants new police powers under the state's workplace safety laws. The maximum fines for these offenses have nearly tripled, and jail terms have doubled, with increased fines for other safety contraventions as well.

The NSW Bill also enables attributing the actions of a company's officers, agents, or workers to the company and clarifies that insurance contracts against workplace safety penalties (made after June 2020) are void. These changes have been met with some controversy, particularly regarding the new police powers for gig economy platform compliance.

In Western Australia, the State Workers Compensation and Injury Management Amendment Bill 2023 has replaced the outdated Workers' Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981. This new legislation offers more comprehensive medical expense coverage for injured workers and extends the initial payment step-down period from 13 to 26 weeks. Additionally, it bans employers and insurers from attending injured workers' medical appointments and establishes a support scheme for catastrophically injured workers. The revised laws aim to make workers' compensation more beneficial and easy to understand.

Both states are taking significant steps to modernize and improve workplace safety and workers' compensation.

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