Over the last few months, the national OHS review panel of Robin Stewart-Crompton, Barry Sherriff and Stephanie Mayman have met with OHS authorities in all the state jurisdictions, various union representatives, and, interestingly, many of the Courts. The panel also attended the recent ACTU conference.
The issues paper for the review will be released on 30 May 2008, the deadline agreed to in the initial review timetable.
The public comment phase will run to 11 July 2008. No public hearings are scheduled. This is disappointing as OHS experts have pointed out that OHS law is probably the only piece of law that workers and managers can readily understand and apply without firstly undertaking a law degree. This means that there are a lot of “bush lawyers” in OHS in Australia but this also means that there is a greater pool of informed opinion to draw from.
Many OHS professionals and practitioners have a better understanding of the application of this law and should be given an opportunity to address the panel in a public forum, if for no better reason than it is the best use of their valuable time. Not everyone who should be heard can devote the necessary time to writing 5,000 word submissions, nor do they have the luxury of being able to charge top dollar on hourly rates for someone else to cover their time.