Everyone will now be aware that the new national workplace
health and safety regime will commence on 1 January 2012.
Importantly there will be no 'grace period' during which
dutyholders will have the benefit of the leniency in relation to
Therefore it is critical that:
Dutyholders are identified
The scope of each duty is understood.
It is important that officers of all PCBUs can demonstrate the
exercise of due diligence to comply with the new legislation.
Officers will be required to ensure that they take
'reasonable steps' to:
Understand relevant workplace health and safety
('WHS') hazards, risks and their
Ensure that the PCBU has adequate resources, policies and
procedures to provide management of workplace hazards
Be satisfied that the PCBU has effective risk management and
compliance with the Act.
To meet this obligation, officers should ensure:
The development of a management structure that clearly details
responsibilities and accountabilities for WHS
The presence of information management systems that provide the
flow of accurate and timely information to relevant members of the
Information is received and actions taken by responsible
Internal and (potentially) external auditing processes are
available to validate compliance and identify any remedial
These elements should be documented to enable demonstration of
due diligence requirements.
Consider statutory liability insurance
A number of national insurers are now offering a product known
as Statutory Liability Insurance. These policies cover, in relation
to all Acts administered by the Commonwealth, state and local
Costs and expenses (including legal expenses) incurred in
defending the imposition of a fine.
As this policy includes cover for fines under the current and
new WHS regimes, and with fines up to $3,000,000 for corporations,
securing such a policy is worth close consideration. In particular,
it is important to be aware that Statutory Liability Insurance
generally provides different cover to Directors and Officers
Liability Insurance. You should check with your broker and insurer
as to the potential cover available.
These policies can (depending on the policy wording) extend to
provide cover for your business, directors and potentially
Even if your business already has such cover, you should enquire
as to whether your policy will cover the maximum fine capable of
being levied under the new regime.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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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.
Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
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