What is the Occupational Safety and Health Tribunal?
The Occupational Safety and Health Tribunal (the Tribunal) was set up in 2005 to assist in the resolution of some workplace safety and health issues under Western Australia's occupational safety and health laws.
Changes to the state's occupational safety and health laws in 2004 established the Tribunal within the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission. The Tribunal deals with certain issues that may be referred under these three laws:
- Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984;
- Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994; and
- Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1982.
What claims can be referred to the Tribunal?
The claims that may be referred to the Tribunal vary between the three laws. They do have similarities in that all of the matters that may be referred relate to occupational health and safety at Western Australian workplaces.
A summary of the claims from the three laws that may be referred are listed in the following documents
Claims that may be referred to the Tribunal are not "industrial matters" as described in the Industrial Relations Act 1979.
Who can refer matters to the Tribunal?
A range of persons from WA workplaces may refer issues to the Tribunal under specific sections of the laws applying to the Tribunal.
It is important to note that the person(s) able to refer matters vary from section to section. Check the schedules.
Persons who may be able to refer matters to the Tribunal include:
- workplace health and safety representatives;
- member(s) of workplace health and safety committees;
- a member of a designated work group;
- the Mine Manager;
- the WorkSafe Western Australia Commissioner; and
- the State Mining Engineer.
What authority does the Tribunal have?
The Tribunal is to assist the parties to reach agreement. If the dispute or difference(s) of view cannot be resolved the claims may be decided by the Tribunal. This should be considered as a last resort. The decision the Tribunal is able to make is dependent on the claim referred. For example, under certain sections compensation may be ordered.
Do I have to be represented before the Tribunal?
Not at all. If you wish to be represented you can be represented by an industrial agent, legal representative, employer organisation or union (appearing as agent under warrant)(Organisations & Agents).
How does the Tribunal operate?
The Tribunal is required to:
- proceed as quickly as possible;
- consider matters according to equity, good conscience and the substantial merits of the case without regard to technicalities or legal form;
- have regard to the interests of the persons immediately concerned, whether directly affected or not; and
- have regard, where appropriate, for the interests of the community as a whole.
What is conciliation?
Conciliation is an informal meeting between the parties chaired by the Tribunal and is available in many (but not all) claims referred to the Tribunal. As an example, see s 51J(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984. The three laws require some claims that are referred to the Tribunal to proceed straight to a formal hearing and determination of the issue.
How does the Tribunal decide disputes or differences which cannot be resolved
In such matters the Tribunal determines the claim having heard evidence and submissions from the parties. It is more formal than conciliation and persons can appear before the Tribunal without representation. This may involve a visit by the Tribunal to the workplace.
Decisions of the Tribunal may be appealed to the Full Bench of the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission.
How are claims referred to the Tribunal?
A claim is referred to the Tribunal by completing a Form 7 and either lodging it at the address below or completing it online.
There is no fee for filing the form.
The form can be completed by the person referring the claim (the applicant), an industrial agent, representative or solicitor. The form requries you to identify, where possible, under which section of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1984, Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 or Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1982 the claim is being referred.
Once the claim has been filed does it have to be forwarded to anyone else?
In most cases the applicant will be required to serve a copy of the claim on the respondent. Service is an important part of your claim. The procedure that is followed for service of claims before the Tribunal is as follows:
- complete your Form 7; and
- file either online with the Tribunal or by facsimile or at the 17th Floor of 111 St Georges Tce, Perth.
The Tribunal will then issue directions as to whom has to be served with the document.
An important part of service includes the completion of a statutory declaration that indicates service has indeed been completed.
The statutory declaration form is available here (Statutory Declaration of Service - Form 4). The form can be lodged at the 16th Floor of 111 St Georges Tce, Perth.
Where is the Tribunal?
The Tribunal is located at the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission, Level 17, 111 St Georges Terrace, Perth, WA 6000. The Tribunal may also hear matters, subject to the availability of the parties, in country towns and regional locations.
Our address if you're lodging the application in person:
111 St Georges Terrace
PERTH WA 6000
Phone: 9420 4444
Facsimile: 9420 4500
Freecall: 1800 624 263
Freefax: 1800 804 987
You are now able to lodge applications online - refer to www.wairc.wa.gov.au
From time to time the laws applicable to the Tribunal may change.
While the information will usually be reflected on the website it is your responsibility to check the relevant law.