Category Archives: Harmonisation

WHS Harmonisation – where are we at?

WHS Harmonisation laws were originally designed to commence 1st January 2013. All the states have passed the legislation except for Victoria and Western Australia. Victoria has decided against joining. Western Australia’s position is outlined by the WorkSafe Commissioner

Statement from the WorkSafe Western Australia Commissioner

The Western Australian Government remains committed to the principle of harmonisation and continues to take steps to progress the implementation of the model work health and safety laws.  The harmonisation process has included the development of the model Act, WHS Regulations and Codes of practice.  WA is continuing to participate in that process.  While it is not intending to adopt the whole of the model WHS Bill, WA will likely adopt the vast majority of the proposed model laws.

In relation to the model WHS Regulations a WA specific public consultation was completed during late 2012 with a WA specific Regulation Impact Statement (‘RIS’) being prepared by Marsden Jacob Associates and provided to WorkSafe on 31 December 2012.  That RIS has been provided to the Government for its consideration as part of the process of proceeding toward the adoption of the model laws.

The timing of the adoption of the model laws is dependent on the availability of the complete package of harmonised laws including the model mining WHS regulations (core and non-core) being available so that any implementation of the WHS laws can be for all industry sectors in WA simultaneously.

Below are some answers to the questions that have been commonly asked in relation to the effect of harmonisation for workers and workplaces in WA.  However, if you have other questions please contact WorkSafe WA on 1300 307 877 or by email (safety@commerce.wa.gov.au) and we will organise an answer for you.

NB: New WHS Legislation has not been tabled in the WA parliament as yet. Stay tuned.

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So where is WHS Harmonisation at?

So the new WHS Harmonisation legislation went through – or did it? This is where the national harmonisation of work health and safety laws currently stands…

The Commonwealth rolled out the Act, Regulations and Codes of Practice on time, as did NSW.

QLD also commenced when the clock struck midnight on 1/1/2012, but are amending their own Codes of Practice to be consistent with the new Act and Regulations.

ACT is also up-to-date – except they haven’t adopted 100% of the Codes.

NT is also up-to-date, although they kept their current Mining Codes until 1st March 2012.

Although they were first to start organising themselves with the new Act, it was withdrawn from the SA parliament for procedural reasons and have now tabled a debate this year with a view to commencing the laws 1st Jan 2013.

VIC looks like they will enact the legislation but they want to assess the impacts and benefits to Victoria first and have said they need another 12 months to make this assessment.

TAS is not going ahead until 1st Jan 2013.

WA is not adopting the entire Act because of opposition to four areas:

  • Changes to the penalties are viewed as being excessively punitive
  • Union right of entry will not be introduced because it already exists under the Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA)
  • Directions from Health and Safety Reps to stop work when it’s unsafe will be opposed because WA believes workers shouldn’t have to wait for a HSR to stop work
  • Reverse onus of proof for prosecutions of discrimination, coercive or misleading conduct is opposed.

This information is sourced from http://www.safetyrisk.com.au

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WHS Harmonisation – What’s Happening?

With recent reports in the media that Western Australia and Victoria have ‘pulled out’ of the harmonisation of OH&S laws, you might be tempted to become complacent about the process of preparing your organisation for the implementation of Work Health and Safety. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by this news; governments around the country have committed to a national set of safety laws and it is a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’ as far as the introduction of these laws in WA and Victoria.

Most states have already passed the relevant legislation to enact the new WHS laws on 1 January 2012. WA and Victoria have complained that information delays from the Federal Government about the specifics of the WHS Regulations mean that their impact on business cannot be accurately assessed, and consequently have not yet introduced the new legislation. (The Model WHS Regulations are at this point going through final iterations primarily to do with specific wording used.)

WorkSafe WA has requested that there be a minimum period of six months between the introduction of the legislation and its enactment, in order to give WorkSafe enough time to understand and prepare for its role in regulating Work Health and Safety in WA. That means that at the earliest, it will be mid-2012 before the new laws govern safety in Western Australia.

In the meantime, the Federal Government announced transition arrangements in early November 2011 that will provide a ‘grace period’ of up to 12 months for businesses that will need to “significantly change” their practices to comply with the new laws. Each jurisdiction will decide what this means in real terms, providing WA and Victoria with some scope to overcome their objections to the current expectation of a 1 January 2012 implementation date.

Key aspects of WHS that should keep it a priority for you to keep working toward include:

  • A reverse of the onus of proof from current laws, meaning that Prosecutors will need to prove the employer did not take all reasonably practicable measures to prevent the risk to safety and health from taking place;
  • Officers of a corporation will be required to exercise due diligence to ensure the organisation complies with safety responsibilities; and
  • Broader obligations to consult with people performing work, including contractors.

For an overview on Work Health and Safety Harmonisation and what it could mean to you, take a look at AurendaTV on YouTube http://youtu.be/omnnB0wphO4.

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Are you ready for the new Work Health and Safety Harmonisation legislation?

State Governments are well on their way to passing the legislation necessary for Work Health and Safety harmonisation to happen on 1 January 2012. Therefore, it is imperative that you ensure your systems and processes are compliant to the new legislation before then.

The Officers of the business especially need to be aware of the changes coming and how they will be affected. The new legislation will have significant impact upon Australian businesses, with CEOs, CFOs, COOs, etc all being deemed as Officers of a corporation, thereby requiring them to take reasonable steps to acquire knowledge of and keep up-to-date with work health and safety matters.

Having effective systems and processes in place will be paramount to demonstrate compliance with safety legislation. Internal and external audits will play a major part in monitoring workplace practices with reports going straight through to the Board. These audits will need to show what is happening – warts and all – because the Board of Directors will need to know that operationally, the business is doing the right thing.

Levels of penalties proposed under the model legislation are quite significant. However, the proposed increases will not be adopted in WA, with the government citing that the proposed levels are too harsh to inflict upon small businesses. The WA government does indeed support an increase in penalties, just not to the level proposed.

In addition to the increased penalties for non-compliance, Officers can face jail terms as well. Unlike existing law, a breach under the new legislation may be deemed serious even without significant injury or death occurring, as the new approach is about exposure to risk, rather than actual consequences, which is a very significant change. Add into this the requirements for notification to the Regulator, preservation of incident sites, duties that will apply, consultation requirements, authorisations, etc, and you may realise that you still have a lot of work to do to prepare for 1 January 2012.

For more information go to http://www.aurenda.com.au/our_process/WHS_harmonisation/ 

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Aurenda now has a social media presence

Aurenda is now able to keep all of its clients up to date with the current news and issues in Occupational Health and Safety and Injury Management via its social media presence.

http://www.facebook.com/Aurenda.BecauseInjuryCost

http://www.linkedin.com/company/aurenda

http://www.twitter.com/Aurenda1

http://youtube.com/user/AurendaTV

https://aurenda.wordpress.com

www.aurenda.com

Whether you are after the next upcoming Occupational Health and Safety Rep Training or information on the upcoming Harmonisation Legislation, these social media sites are the place to find it.

So follow us Twitter, be our friend and like us on Facebook, connect with us on LinkedIn, tune in to AurendaTV and check into our Aurenda Blog.

For the latest timetable of WorkSafe-Accredited Occupational Safety & Health Representative Training and WHS Harmonisation+ Programme go to http://www.aurenda.com/our_process/training/

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