As of 1 January 2012 the Commonwealth, States and Territories have agreed to implement nationally harmonised WH&S Legislation.
While the Act is largely similar to the current Queensland Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995, there are a number of important differences:
• Business operators must do what is reasonably practicableto eliminate or minimise risk to health and safety.
• Company directors will have a positive and proactive duty to exercise due diligence. This represents a shift away from attributed liability (i.e. being held liable for contraventions by the company) and requires directors to:
-acquire and keep up-to-date knowledge of health and safety matters
-gain an understanding of hazards and risks associated with the company’s operations.
-ensure appropriate resources are available for use to eliminate or minimise risks from work carried out.
-ensure appropriate processes for obtaining information about incidents, hazards and risks, and responding to them
-ensure processes for complying with duties are implemented, e.g. reporting, consultation arrangements, training and instruction verify the provision and use of resources for the matters listed above.
• Workers must exercise reasonable care that their acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of all persons at a workplace.
• There will be no requirement for business operators to appoint workplace health and safety officers (WHSOs). However, as it is a requirement for business operators, including company directors, to be familiar with the risks and hazards associated with their operations, and to provide appropriate control measures to ensure a safe working environment, businesses are encouraged to have access to trained safety personnel.
• Health and safety representatives HSRs) will represent defined work groups at a workplace. These will need to be negotiated with the business operator.
• Health and safety issues are to be resolved in accordance with an agreed procedure. Where there is no agreed procedure at a workplace, the national model laws set out a default procedure.
• HSRs will be able to issue provisional improvement notices and can direct workers to cease work after consultation and an attempt to resolve an issue, or without consultation, if there is an immediate and imminent threat to health and safety.
What are the Benefits of Harmonisation?
- Greater Clarity and Simplicity for all parties.
- Reduced costs for National Businesses.
- Provision of consistent Safety Standards and rights for all employees in the country.
- Reduced Government Expenditure in developing and administering.
Will you be Ready??