Victoria looks set to push back implementation of the national
occupational health and safety harmonised laws by another 12
The content of the Model Work Health and Safety Act (Model Act)
has been reasonably settled for some time now and Victoria, in line
with most other Australian states, appeared likely to adopt and
implement laws based on the Model Act on 1 January 2012. However,
recently the Victorian Government has cast serious doubts as to
whether this will occur.
In a recent
media statement, the Victorian Government announced that while
it supports OHS harmonisation in principle, it requires more time
to "assess the benefits and costs to Victoria, to ensure
that the proposed package is in Victoria's
interests". The statement notes that delays in the
finalisation of the Model Regulations and model Codes of Practice
mean Victoria will not have sufficient time to prepare for the
introduction of the model laws. In addition, the final National
Regulatory Impact Statement does not quantify the impacts on
Victoria as promised. The Victorian Government called on the
Commonwealth to defer implementation of the Model Act for a further
Following the Government's media statement, WorkSafe
Victoria announced it will continue to enforce the existing
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and the
Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007 until the
Model Act is passed into law.
The recent developments in Victoria add to concerns already
raised by the Western Australian Government which has expressed
reservations for some time regarding the Model Regulations and the
Model Act in relation to both content and timeframes for
As a result, it is now looking more and more likely that
adoption and implementation of laws based on the Model Act in both
Victoria and Western Australia will be delayed until 1 January
2013, providing businesses with a greater opportunity to prepare
for the transition.
What this means for employers
The additional 12 months preparation time in these states will
give Victorian and West Australian organisations more time to
conduct the comprehensive "gap analysis" required to
determine areas where improvements or changes to their systems of
work, policies and procedures are required to comply with the Model
However, national organisations need to be aware that in all
other states laws based on the Model Act are still likely to come
into effect on 1 January 2012. As such, it is important for
organisations to ensure their practices comply with the new laws
and regulations in those states. Safe Work Australia, the national
body charged with managing the implementation of the harmonised
laws, has made it clear that no grace period will apply in relation
to enforcement of the new laws following implementation.
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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