The quest for a national or harmonised approach to occupational
health and safety continues.
In April this year, Safe Work Australia approved the current
version of the model Work Health and Safety Act. That
version incorporated technical and drafting amendments, endorsed by
the Workplace Relations Ministers' Council, which were made
following a period of public comment.
With the model Act as good as done, the focus is now on
developing appropriate accompanying regulations and codes of
practice. To that end, Safe Work Australia recently released
for public comment the draft model Work Health and Safety
Regulations (Regulations) and some priority
Codes of Practice (Codes). To
access the Regulations and the Codes, please
Interested parties will have until early April 2011 to submit
comments to Safe Work Australia about the Regulations and the
Codes, after which time Safe Work Australia will consider the
submissions and determine whether to amend the Regulations and the
Codes in any way.
In mid 2011, Safe Work Australia will present the Regulations
and the Codes, as amended, to the Workplace Relations
Ministers' Council for approval.
What does the future hold?
At this stage, the plan is for the harmonised occupational
health and safety laws to be adopted by all States, Territories and
the Commonwealth so that they commence operation in January
Whether that will actually occur, remains unclear, particularly
in New South Wales, where Premier Keneally has expressed
reservations about adopting the model laws unless New South Wales
is allowed to retain union initiated prosecutions and a reverse
onus of proof (i.e. that the onus of proving what is reasonably
practicable to identify and control safety risks should rest with
employers as defendants, and not with the prosecutor).
Further, while the Western Australian government supports the
principles of harmonisation, it has previously flagged an intention
to retain key features of its own occupational health and safety
legislation going forward.
Can we help?
Gadens Lawyers has specialist expertise in workplace safety.
If you would like our assistance preparing submissions on the
Regulations and Codes, or if you would like our advice about the
impact of the model laws on your business generally, please let us
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