News on Australia’s OHS model Act

Safe Work Australia (SWA) has released the latest communique following the Workplace Relations Ministers’ Council meeting on 9 December 2009.  Various amendments have been made to the draft Act following the public submissions period.  Those amendments that SWA consider significant are:

  • adoption of the definition of ‘officer’ in accordance with the Corporations Act 2001 and the definition of ‘due diligence’ to clarify officers’ duties
  • a duty for the persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to consult not only with workers directly affected by the health and safety matter, but with other duty holders who have a duty in relation to the same matter
  • the requirement for a PCBU to provide training to a health and safety representative (HSR) within three months of a request for training
  • removal of compensation orders as a sentencing option
  • removal of requirements for union right of entry which are already prescribed under the Fair Work Act 2009
  • restructuring of the most serious category of offence to a reckless endangerment offence when a duty holders’ conduct has exposed a person to a risk of death or serious injury of another person
  • monetary penalties, not penalty units, used to ensure consistency between jurisdictions
  • a 14 day timeframe for commencing negotiations between a PCBU and workgroup
  • allowing a PCBU to refuse entry on ‘reasonable grounds’ to a person chosen by the HSR to provide assistance, if no relevant assistance could be provided by the nominated person
  • being subject to a criminal penalty regime, except in relation to right of entry offences in Part 7. Right of entry offences in Part 7 would be subject to a civil penalty regime consistent with that in the Fair Work Act 2009. A framework will need to be established for civil penalties, and
  • penalties for the non-duty of care offences for corporations, ranging from a maximum of $500 000 for serious breaches to a maximum of $10 000 for minor administrative breaches.

Significantly, all the submissions that pushed for the inclusion of a “suitably qualified” OHS professional seem to have missed out.  Clarification or confirmation of this is being sought from Safe Work Australia.

Kevin Jones

UPDATE – 11 December 2009

The Model Work Health and Safety Act has now been posted on the Safe Work Australia website and is available for download HERE

reservoir, victoria, australia
Categories government, law, OHS, politics, research, safety, UncategorizedTags , , , ,

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