It all started way back in July 2008. The plan was to rid the
nation of disparate occupational health and safety legislation.
Commonwealth, State and Territory governments would together
develop uniform model legislation which everyone would then
Sensible, and applauded by everyone. Of course, it was never
going to be easy, or fast. And there were bound to be turf wars. So
a comfortable buffer was built in: kick off on 1 January 2012.
On the eve of proposed commencement, let's recap on
progress. Alas, national harmonisation of OHS legislation is less
likely than Santa sliding down your chimney on Christmas Eve.
NSW was a strong starter and actually accelerated some of the
changes – including the new positive obligation on
"officers" to exercise due diligence – by
amending the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 (NSW)
effective 7 June 2011. The Work Health and Safety Act 2011
(NSW) was due to commence on 1 January 2012, but now
there's a chance it might not.
The Commonwealth, ACT and Queensland currently look set for a 1
January 2012 kick off date, and the NT bill was passed on 2
December. But Queensland operations beware. If you're in
the oil and gas industry for example, the model legislation
won't apply. Instead the Petroleum and Gas (Production
and Safety) Act 2004 (Qld) will continue to operate.
SA and Tasmania have deferred debate on the state-based bills
until February and March 2012 respectively. Victoria has hinted on
1 January 2013 commencement at the earliest, and WA appears yet to
be convinced that it should pass mirror legislation in its
entirety, if at all.
So there you have it. OHS harmonisation will not commence
nationally on 1 January 2012, if ever at all. But that
doesn't mean you can sit on your hands. Identification of
what will operate, and when it will commence, is still crucial. And
if you're in NSW, it may mean a bit of catch up on the
changes that have already started operation.
Questions? Give us a call.
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