Australia: WH&S harmonisation delayed again

Key Points:

Given the current state of play with the WH&S harmonisation process, businesses should review their compliance.

As the harmonised Workplace Health and Safety (WH&S) regulations unfold unevenly across Australia, their respective transitional arrangements continue as planned or have been delayed.

The harmonisation of WH&S regulations commenced 1 January 2012 in Queensland, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. While South Australia (with some exceptions) and Tasmania commenced its WH&S Act on 1 January 2013.

However, to provide more certainty for employers, some provisions of the regulations which were due to commence in Queensland have now been delayed while other transitional arrangements in the Northern Territory have been further extended.

Queensland: WH&S Regulation – key provisions delayed until 1 January 2014

  • Audiometric testing (section 58);
  • Earthmoving equipment with protective structures (section 217);
  • Asbestos registers and management plans in relation to buildings built from 1 January 1990 to 31 December 2003 (sections 425 and 429);
  • Naturally occurring asbestos and management plans (sections 432 and 433);
  • Exposure to asbestos health monitoring for those at risk (Part 8.5, Division 1);
  • Concrete placement booms and prefabricated form work and the design registration (section 779);
  • Remote or isolated work (section 48);
  • Plant registration duration to five years (section 272); and
  • High Risk Work and various licensing provisions.

Northern Territory: WH&S Regulation – key provisions extended until 1 January 2014

  • Asbestos training for workers (Regs 445);
  • Construction work and principal contractor duties (Regs 42, 43, 225, 293, 306);
  • Workplace management under Chapter 3 (Regs 42, 43, 48, 53 - 55, 225);
  • Diving Work (Regs 168 -169, 171- 174, 176- 184);
  • Electrical safety under Chapter 4 (Regs 150 - 151, 154- 162, 164-166);
  • Hazardous Work under Chapter 4 (Regs 68 - 69, 74, 78 - 80); and
  • Plant under Chapter 5 (Regs 208, 210 to 212, 216 - 217, 225).

New South Wales: WH&S Regulation – key provisions in force on 1 July 2013

  • Only licensed asbestos assessors may issue clearance certificates or conduct air monitoring for friable asbestos removal work.
  • Dangerous goods - new notification requirements for storage.
  • Plant item registrations will have new renewal requirements.
  • Introduction of reach stacker high risk work licence. A Non-slewing mobile crane (CN class) is required for the operation of a reach stacker in the interim period.

South Australia: WH&S Regulation – key provisions in force on 1 July 2013

  • Diving Work (regs 168, 169 and 170)

South Australia: 12 months transitional period (in force on 1 January 2014)

  • Naturally occurring asbestos and management plans (Regs 431-434)
  • Electrical work - provisions relating to socket outlets in hostile operating environment (Reg 164)
  • Construction site - relating to sites being secured from unauthorised access, safe work method statements for high risk construction work, duties of principal contractor (Regs 298, 299- 303, 307-315)
  • Hazardous Chemicals (Regs 347-348, 361, 376, 380-382, 390-391, 402-418)
  • Diving Work (Regs 172-176, 177-182)
  • Noise (Reg 58)
  • Protective Structures (Reg 737)
  • Plant and Structures (Regs 718-721, 731-734, 735)

Tasmania: 12 months transitional period (in force on 1 January 2014)

  • Diving Work (Regs 168- 170, 178 - 181)
  • Earthmoving machinery and protective structures (Reg 217)
  • Asbestos removal and supervisors and training (Regs 459-460, 529)

Practical tips – how to stay ahead

Given the current state of play with the harmonisation process, you should:

  • decide whether any of the above changes relate to your particular operation/s in your state;
  • consider whether any of the changes apply to any business or undertaking that might be conducted in other States;
  • for each relevant change, decide whether the transitional period has expired or been delayed;
  • those persons deemed as an "officer", and/ or are in positions that make decisions that affect the whole or a substantial part of the organisation, should seek to fully understand any changes and possible impact;
  • consult with relevant workers, managers and others within your organisation to determine, amongst other things, the practical effect on health and safety, resources and the organisations operations;
  • consider whether additional training is required and whether the organisation has the capability to provide relevant training; and
  • determine what changes are required to policies and procedures and risk management plans.

Thanks to Amy Lee for her help in writing this article

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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this bulletin. Persons listed may not be admitted in all states and territories.

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