Next week, on Monday, 4 April, the long-awaited Health and
Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSW Act) comes into force.
The HSW Act places obligations on everyone in a workplace to
take care of their own health and safety, and the health and safety
of others. These duties apply to:
a person conducting a business or undertaking, which includes a
self-employed individual, a partnership, and company, and an
association (this person is referred to in the HSW Act as a
officers of a PCBU (such as the director or CEO of a
workers (including contractors); and
other people at a workplace, including visitors.
To get ready for the HSW Act, you should be getting your
procedures and processes in place. This is the time to adopt a
proactive, rather than a passive or reactive, approach to workplace
health and safety.
Some practical steps organisations can take now include:
reviewing and updating health and safety management systems and
documents to ensure that they comply with the new legislation,
particularly with regard to the new risk management duties, the new
"notifiable events" regime, and increased obligations
with regards to contractor management;
reviewing health and safety clauses in commercial contracts to
ensure that they comply with the new legislation and do not
inadvertently breach the new legislation, for example by attempting
to contract out health and safety duties, or by attempting to
provide indemnities in respect of health and safety fines;
reviewing worker participation systems to ensure they are
appropriate for your business and comply with the new legislation
and regulations, including ensuring that there is a system in place
to seek regular feedback about incidents, near misses and new risks
in the workplace;
ensuring that health and safety is on the agenda at each Board
meeting, that health and safety reports are meaningful, and that
the data they contain is explained so that officers who may not be
involved in the day to day running of the business can make
appropriate decisions about where to allocate time and
including health and safety KPIs in employment agreements and
as a factor in remuneration reviews (although the emphasis should
not be on "zero" incidents, which can discourage
reporting, but rather on championing the organisation's health
and safety systems); and
reviewing the arrangements in place for engaging and monitoring
We have written a number of articles on specific aspects of the
new legislation which are available on our website, including:
Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
This WHS decision clarified the interpretation of s 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW).
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