Things seem to have been quiet on the harmonisation of OHS laws in Australia so it is worth to check the latest status of these laws. Australian law firm, Freehills, recently provided clients with an update (not yet available online) in which they described the process as now operating in two stages, almost splitting Australian jurisdictions.
According to the client update:
“As of 1 January 2012, the Model WHS Laws have commenced operation in:
- New South Wales,
- the Australian Capital Territory, and
- the Northern Territory…..
The Model WHS Laws are not yet operating in:
- South Australia,
- Western Australia,
- Victoria, or
Tasmania plans to proclaim the laws by 1 January 2013 and, according to Freehills, is considering amending the laws
“to provide specific protection to workers under the age of 19.”
This nugget of information was revealed in that government’s ‘Review of Tasmanian Child Labour Laws’. This shows that one needs to look outside of OHS for OHS news.
Various actions in Western Australia have recently provided some hope of implementation but Freehills believes that
“The Model WHS Laws may be introduced during 2012, and so it is possible that a commencement date of 1 January 2013 could be achieved.
In our view, even this is unlikely noting that drafting of the mining legislation will also need to be complete and this may take some time. It is also worth noting that (because of opposition to the four ‘areas of concern’ referred to above) the WA Model WHS Bill is likely to differ in significant ways from laws of other states and territories.”
Those areas of concern relate to
- Penalty Levels,
- Union Right of Entry,
- Cessation of work called by health and safety representatives, and
- The Reverse Onus of Proof.
The advice from Freehills to those States that have not implemented the Work Health and Safety laws continues to be
- get ready for the laws,
- improve your understand and application of due diligence provisions, and
- don’t ignore WHS obligations just because they don’t directly apply to you or your State.
Parliament is sitting currently in many of jurisdictions and there may action in the Spring sessions but it is likely that bits and pieces of legislative or safety changes will continue to trickle through.