Workplace health and safety laws are changing in Western Australia with the Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Act (WA) 2020 and we've received many questions. Our local government members have been particularly interested in how volunteers, particularly bushfire volunteers, are now included by the legislation.
Members should remember that if they already have good risk management and safety practices in place there will be minimal impact from the legislative changes on their day to day operations. The legislation has further formalised an employer's safety responsibilities which in some areas were implied but not explicitly stated in previous legislation.
The WHS Act will come into operation once the supporting regulations are finalised. Work to develop the regulations is well underway and will continue throughout 2021 and potentially into 2022.
While the regulations are being developed local governments have time to become familiar with the provisions of the WHS Act. Transitional arrangements will be in place for matters covered by the WHS regulations based on the transition principles established by Safe Work Australia.
Key elements of the WHS Act for local governments to be aware of include:
- The new term 'Person conducting a business or undertaking' or PCBU expands the old concept of 'employer'. It's a broad term used to describe all forms of modern working arrangements, which we commonly refer to as business.
- A person who works for a PCBU is considered a worker. The definition of a worker has been expanded and now covers and includes all forms of paid an unpaid work, including volunteers and bushfire volunteers.
- PCBU responsibilities include: providing a safe place of work, providing for safe systems of work; provide Information, instruction, training and supervision on how to deal with hazards; monitoring the health and safety of workers; and provide for the safe use of plant, substances and structures.
WHS Resources for members
The following resources have been developed to assist members in meeting their WHS obligations. Make sure you're logged into the website BEFORE clicking on the links below..
- About WHS (May 2021)
- A guide to managing volunteers in local government
- WHS and volunteers - what you need to know
- Appendix 1: Induction into local government (July 2021)
- Appendix 2: Volunteer activity record (July 2021)
- Appendix 3: Private vehicle log (July 2021)
- Appendix 4: Volunteer registration process (July 2021)
- Appendix 5: Confidential criminal screening declaration (July 2021)
Bushfire volunteers (BFV)
The following resources have been developed to assist members in meeting their WHS obligations in relation to bushfire volunteers. Make sure you're logged into the website BEFORE clicking on the links below.
- Bushfire volunteer handbook
- DFES Bushfire service training program
- CEO Bushfire volunteer briefing
- Form 1: BFV applicant medical declaration (template)
- Form 2: Bushfire brigade membership application (template)
- Form 3: Volunteer national police clearance (template)
- Form 4: DFES volunteer registration and condistions of membership (template)
- Example roles and responsibilities - bushfire brigades
Other safety resources
To assist you to manage the safety of your workers, we provide a range of services, tailor made OSH programs and resources for local government. These include:
For further information or to discuss how we can assist you through the many programs we deliver contact our Work, health and safety team on 08 9483 8888.
Local Government Safety Advisory Group
Understanding the needs of local government is an important facet in how we provide our service. A key initiative for this is the Local Government Safety Advisory Group (LGSAG). Chaired by LGIS, this forum meets bi-monthly and is attended by personnel from across local government. At this forum we share our thoughts, ideas and experiences, as well as hear from subject matter experts on a vast range of topics related to safety.
If you wish to become an LGSAG member, whether as an attendee or just join the mailing list to keep ahead of the issues we discuss, please contact a member of our WHS team on 08 9483 8888.