On 9 November 2009 public submissions close on Australia’s model OHS Act but the move for harmonisation and, hopefully, a simplification for business and government continues in other areas.
“ATC agreed to recommend to COAG that South Australia would be the host jurisdiction for the national rail safety regulator.
ATC also agreed to recommend to COAG that a host jurisdiction for the national heavy vehicle regulator be agreed, noting that New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have expressed interest.
It was agreed that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority will be the national regulator for maritime safety, responsible for regulating commercial vessels. This is a significant step towards national uniformity.”
There were several other initiatives mentioned – level crossing safety, a National Road Safety Council, minimum standard for taxi drivers.
But the recommendations above decentralise some of the bureaucracy. At the HR Leaders Awards recently, the CEO of Carnival cruise liners, Anne Cherry, said that many public servants exist in a unique policy environment of the capital city, Canberra, and the policies reflect this.
SafetyAtWorkBlog would like to suggest a change that could occur within the enforcement parameters of the OHS model law review.
Let’s consider a national mine safety regulator with offices located in each of the mineral resources regions of Australia. Could transport regulators have offices within, or just outside, major port facilities? Major hazards regulators in major hazards zones?
There is much information bandied around about flexible working arrangements and the use of new technology to unite isolated workplaces. How radical would it be to split the centralised OHS regulators’ offices into hazard-based offices in rural, regional and suburban locations? The inspectors would be adjacent to the hazard locations for enforcement and the advisers are on hand for assistance to industry. The locations could even be seasonal to deal with seasonal industries and labour forces.
OHS enforcement policies would remain the same, only the place of implementation and coordination would change.
Most OHS regulators already have a a couple of regional offices but mostly these remain in the outer suburbs of the capital cities. Some entire departments have relocated to satellite towns for cost reasons but also to provide employment opportunities outside the major population centres.
Could OHS be regulated and enforced across a country the size of Australia and through the major industrial and resource structures, without the concentrations of policy-makers and inspectors in city offices?