According to a media release from Senator Chris Evans, the Australian Minister for Workplace Relations, the Regulatory Impact Statement for the new OHS regulations will be released today, 14 September 2011. The release is not yet publicly available on-line so the full text is included below:
New health and safety regulations to boost national productivity
“Historic health and safety reforms will deliver up to $2 billion a year in productivity gains Minister for Workplace Relations, Senator Chris Evans said today.
The Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) for the harmonisation of health and safety regulations released today confirms the economic benefit of a national OHS system and demonstrates that the reforms are on track to be implemented by 1 January 2012.
“The Statement vindicates COAG’s decision in 2008, and the Gillard Government’s determination to pursue OHS harmonisation as a key economic reform,” Senator Evans said.
“In a modern economy where businesses operate and trade across state boundaries, it is inefficient to have nine different OHS statutes and more than 400 pieces of regulation covering the same responsibilities.
“The Statement confirms that the harmonisation of OHS laws across the country will create a balanced, simpler framework that secures health and safety for all Australian workers while delivering tangible productivity benefits.”
While there has been some commentary regarding the benefits of harmonisation to Victoria, it is now clear that any costs are far outweighed by the benefits which will flow from harmonisation. Around 60 per cent of the reforms analysed involved no or minimal costs to Victoria. Also, out of all the jurisdictions, Victoria will implement the second lowest number of reforms which carry a significant cost.
“The Victorian Government will also benefit from $50 million in reward payments if these reforms are implemented by 1 January 2012,” Senator Evans said.
“Single-state firms and small businesses will face a maximum cost of six cents per worker a week. This cost is far outweighed by the $250 million a year in benefits from reducing red tape and improving safety standards for workers.
“The Regulatory Impact Statement concludes that harmonisation is the preferred option, with safety benefits exceeding compliance costs and the long term return for our national economy significantly outweighing the one off cost of implementation.
“By improving workers’ safety at the same time as delivering on fundamental reform that will boost economic productivity, harmonised OHS laws represent a win-win for both employers and employees.”
This important regulatory reform has the support of the Ai Group, ACCI, ACTU the Australian Constructors Association, the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Federation of Employers and Industry.
The model WHS Regulations and Codes of Practice support the model WHS Act endorsed by the Workplace Relations Ministers’ Council in December 2009. All members of the Council will be requested to approve the model as soon as possible.
The model WHS Act, Regulations and Codes of Practice form a legislative package developed by Safe Work Australia which will enable harmonised work health and safety laws to be in place across Australia by 1 January 2012.”