50/50 split on harmonisation of Work Health and Safety (WHS)
The Northern Territory, New South Wales, ACT, Queensland and
Commonwealth are set for the commencement of the new harmonised WHS
laws on 1 January 2012. South Australia, Victoria, Western
Australia and Tasmania have delayed the implementation of the new
laws. It is now clear that full harmonisation of WHS laws will not
be achieved by 1 January 2012.
The Victorian and Western Australian Governments have not
committed to a 1 January 2012 commencement of the harmonised laws
and have failed to introduce draft legislation to their
parliaments. Rather, it seems that adoption and implementation of
the new laws in both of these states will be delayed until 1
January 2013, allowing businesses greater time to prepare for the
In the Northern Territory, the Work Health and Safety Bill (WHS
Bill) passed through Parliament on 2 December 2011. The ACT passed
its bill in September 2011.
In addition to passing the WHS Bill and making the model WHS
Regulations, in preparing for the commencement of the Workplace
Health and Safety Act, Queensland has approved 11 new work health
and safety Codes of Practice to take effect from 1 January 2012 and
has amended 24 current State Codes to ensure consistency with the
new laws. The new Queensland Codes of Practice are based on the
model codes drafted by Safe Work Australia and aim to support the
new legislation. Some examples of the new Codes of Practice include
the "Confined Spaces" Code, the "How to Manage Work
Health and Safety Risks" Code, and "Managing the Risk of
Falls at Workplaces" Code.
NSW has confirmed that its Work Health and Safety Act will
commence on 1 January 2012 as scheduled. The NSW Government has
offered A$550,000 worth of grants for the development of training
programs, such as workshops and seminars, to educate small
businesses and assist them in understanding and complying with the
The South Australia Legislative Council has deferred debate on
the proposed laws until February 2012 amid concerns that the new
laws could increase the cost of housing. While South Australia was
the first jurisdiction to introduce a model Work Health and Safety
Bill to its Parliament earlier this year, it seems that it is now
likely to be one of the last jurisdictions to implement the
harmonised WHS laws.
The Tasmanian Upper House has decided to delay the
implementation of its model laws for another 12 months, sending the
Bill back to the Lower House for further debate in March 2012.
Tasmania has also indicated it will retain its dangerous goods
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