South Australia to have WHS on 1 January 2013
South Australia will have new work health and safety laws, as of 1 January 2013, after legislation passed State Parliament last week.
It is intended that the new laws will take effect on 1 January 2013.
The current OHS laws will continue to apply until then.Therefore, it is essential that businesses ensure they are still meeting all of their legal requirements with current laws, as well as preparing for the incoming WHS laws.
More WHS Codes of Practice Approved
A further eight model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Codes of Practice have now been finalised.
The new Codes are:
- First Aid in the Workplace;
- Construction Work;
- Preventing Falls in Housing Construction;
- Managing the Risks of Plant in the Workplace;
- Managing Risks of Hazardous Chemicals in the Workplace;
- Safe Design of Structures;
- Managing Electrical Risks in the Workplace; and
- Demolition Work.
Four more Codes of Practice will be available soon, according to Safe Work Australia. These are:
- Excavation Work;
- Spray Painting and Powder Coating;
- Abrasive Blasting; and
- Welding Processes.
These will likely be adopted once the new WHS laws have passed in South Australia.
Work Health and Safety Update
The Work Health and Safety Bill 2011 did not pass Parliament in time for the original 1 January 2012 start date. A motion to defer debate on the Bill until 2012, which was led by the Opposition, was successfully passed in the Legislative Council (Upper House) on 30 November 2011.
The State Government is yet to announce an alternative commencement date for the proposed laws. It continues to be debated in State Parliament.
The following is a recap of the harmonisation progress for all other States and Territories.
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
The ACT was one of the first jurisdictions to pass Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation, passing their Work Health and Safety Bill on 20 September 2011. The laws commenced on 1 January 2012.
The Commonwealth jurisdiction covers all Federal Government employees and their Bill was passed on 25 November 2011 and taking effect on 1 January 2012.
New South Wales
New South Wales was the second State to pass the WHS legislation, passing on 1 June 2011. The new laws were adopted as of 1 January 2012.
The legislation was passed in December 2011 and commenced in the Northern Territory on 1 January 2012.
Tasmania passed the WHS legislation and the laws will come into effect on 1 January 2013.
Queensland was the first State to pass the laws, on 26 May 2011. The WHS laws will take effect on 1 January 2012.
The Victorian Government commissioned their own Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) into the impact WHS laws would have on Victorian businesses and the economy. Their RIS was released in April and states that there would be costs of more than $3.4 billion over the next five years to Victorian businesses. They are yet to introduce WHS legislation to their Parliament.
Western Australia has delayed the implementation of the WHS legislation and is yet to introduce the legislation.
WHS: What you need to know
The harmonisation of Australia’s Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws will affect all South Australian business and all industries directly.
If the WHS becomes law, from the first day it takes effect, you will need to ensure you are compliant with the new laws or face penalties of up to $3 million.
The following are some examples of key changes you will need to know and understand when the legislation comes into effect in South Australia:
- There will be higher penalties for breaching the laws including up to five years jail time for individuals and up to a $3 million fine for corporations.
- All officers must keep up-to-date and informed about health and safety issues in order to maintain compliance - read on to discover how we can help you ensure your compliance with both the current and incoming laws.
- Policies and procedures are necessary to ensure compliance, including social media policies.
- Unions will have greater right of entry provisions under the new laws and will be allowed to advise and consult with your employees regarding WHS.
- Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) will have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace to all workers (including contractors and labour hire workers), as well as a reasonable duty of care for clients and customers.
These are just a snapshot of the huge range of changes that will be coming in with the introduction of the new harmonised laws.
Want an easy solution to keeping up-to-date with the latest issues in the world of health and safety to ensure your compliance with the new laws?
Business SA’s OHS Legislative Changes Service is the perfect solution. It offers subscribers monthly updates regarding any changes to legislation, relevant reports and public comment documents, as well as information papers and resource material such as reports and publications. The Service covers both National and State issues to help you meet your legislative requirements. To find out more or to purchase the OHS Legislative Changes Service, visit the Business Bookshop.
For more information or advice about your requirements under the current or incoming health and safety laws, call the Business Advisory Centre on 08 8300 0101.
WHS Delay May Apply for Some SA Businesses
Despite the laws not being introduced by the set date, Federal Workplace Relations Minister, Chris Evans, has still announced that businesses in some sectors may be given an additional 12 months to transition to the harmonised Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations.
Safe Work Australia has confirmed that the transitional period is likely and may apply to sectors where the Regulations will introduce “a new or significantly different set of duties.”
This may apply to South Australian construction companies, as well as businesses engaged in electrical work in some States and Territories.
Safe Work Australia will release guidance material to the Regulations’ transitional provisions soon.