Nationally uniform work health and safety laws will ensure a consistently high level of protection for all Australians, and over time, reduce the compliance and regulatory burden for businesses which operate across state borders. The harmonised
legislation will be similar to Victoria’s Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004. So if your business is compliant with Victorian law, you are well placed to comply with the new legislation. The new system of harmonised laws will include an Act, Regulations, Codes of Practice and a National Compliance and Enforcement Policy. This information sheet will help you start to understand the changes to terms, definitions, and duties proposed by the new legislation.
This guide provides an overview of the Queensland Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act). It is designed to help people understand their health and safety duties and rights in the workplace. However it is not intended to be read in place of the WHS Act. To assist readers, crossreferences to specific sections of the WHS Act are provided after each heading. It also provides information on:
• the requirements for consultation between business operators,
worker representatives and workers;
• the notification of incidents; enforcement procedures;
• what constitutes an offence under the WHS Act and the range of
penalties that apply.
Overall, the implementation of the model Work Health and Safety Regulations (WHS Regulations) 1 should not have a significant impact in how NSW businesses operate and manage work health and safety matters.
Essentially, many requirements are unchanged, or substantially the same as is currently prescribed in the existing Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001 (OHS Regulation). However, some NSW businesses or industries may need to change how they comply with work health and safety legislation in the following respects:
When will the new legislation come into effect? The model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act, model work health and safety regulations, and model codes of practice are anticipated to come into effect on 1 January 2012. What does ‘model’ work health and safety (WHS) legislation mean? ‘Model’ refers to Safe Work Australia’s model WHS framework, which includes an act, regulations and codes of practice, to be adopted by each jurisdiction. Each state and territory will enact their own laws to mirror these model laws.
On 11 December 2009, the Workplace Relations Ministers’ Council endorsed the Model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Bill. The intention is that the Commonwealth and each state and territory government will enact a workplace health and safety Bill to commence on 1 January 2012. This is consistent with the Intergovernmental Agreement for Regulatory and Operational Reform in Occupational Health and Safety, signed by the Council of Australian Governments. The following summary highlights key provisions of the model WHS Bill, which is available at www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au
COMCARE Defines PCBU
The principal duty holder is a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ and replaces the term ‘employer’. PCBUs include the Commonwealth, Commonwealth Authorities, non-Commonwealth licensees, principal contractors, and will, in some cases, necessitate an analysis to understand who is a PCBU in a particular factual context under the new WHS laws.
The duty imposed on a PCBU is probably the most significant conceptual change from the majority of previous OHS Acts. For the public sector, it means that every activity that could give rise to a risk is captured in both policy and operational.
This change is aimed at ensuring that the WHS Act coverage extends beyond the traditional employer / employee relationship to include new and evolving work arrangements and risks.
The WHS Act also places specific upstream duties on PCBUs who carry out specific activities:
- persons with management or control of a workplace/fixtures, fittings and plant
- designers, manufacturers, importers, suppliers and PCBUs that install construct or commission plant or structures.
- Duties extend to any PCBU who is contributing to work has a duty of care – this can be more than one duty in relation to specific activities
‘Volunteer association’ (as defined) is not treated as a business or undertaking.