Following the Queensland Government's recent review of work
health and safety (WHS) laws, on 13 February 2014
the Attorney General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie
introduced the Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation
Bill 2014 (Qld) (Bill). This is stated to be
the first of the proposed WHS legislative reforms arising from the
If passed in its current form, the Bill will implement
significant changes to rights of entry based on WHS concerns, the
powers of health and safety representatives
(HSRs), as well as significantly increasing the
penalties available for certain electrical WHS breaches.
The reforms of right of entry powers would add a new requirement
that WHS entry permit holders would need to provide at least 24
hours, but not more than 14 days, notice before entering workplaces
to investigate suspected WHS contraventions, together with
penalties for breaching this requirement.
This will mean that this right of entry will be consistent with
other right of entry powers under the Fair Work Act 2009
This change is aimed at limiting what has been described by
Minister Bleijie as being the abuse of right of entry powers by
unions based on 'trumped up or suspected safety
contraventions', particularly in the building and
Once in force, this change will mean that employers can take a
consistent approach to the timing of notice requirements for the
exercise of right of entry powers.
The proposed changes affecting HSRs include:
a notification requirement for the entry of any assistant in
circumstances where a HSR requests the assistance of another
the removal of the power for a HSR to direct unsafe work to
The first of these changes closes a potential loophole regarding
right of entry. The second change is a significant reduction in
power for HSRs. However, workers retain a general right to stop or
refuse work where they have a reasonable concern that they would be
exposed to a serious risk to their own health and safety, arising
from an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard. Any such
stoppage must be notified and the worker must be available to
perform suitable alternative work until they can resume their
The final proposed reform is to increase the maximum penalties
available under the Electrical Safety Regulation 2013 (Qld) from 40
penalty units to 300 penalty units – representing an increase
under the current definition of a 'penalty unit' from $440
to $33,000. This increase is stated to be justified as a deterrent
and to bring this Regulation into line with penalty increases
already implemented following the harmonisation of Queensland WHS
We will keep you informed of further developments, but in the
meantime please contact our team of WHS experts if you wish to
discuss any of the reforms.
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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