Health and safety representative

Safe Work Australia have released agreed changes to model WHS laws and regulations

Safe Work Australia have released a set of agreed changes to the Model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws and regulations. The Amendments to the model WHS laws have been published on the Safe Work Australia website. It is important to note the amendments do not automatically apply in a jurisdiction. For the model WHS Act and model WHS Regulations to have effect in a jurisdiction they must be enacted in jurisdiction.

The amendments implement a number of recommendations from the independent review of the model WHS laws completed by Marie Boland in 2018.

There are recommended amendments to:

  • the model WHS Regulations to deal with psychosocial risks and they define psychosocial hazards (recommendation 2)
  • work group provisions to clarify work groups are negotiated and agreed between the PCBU and workers (recommendation 7b)
  • health and safety representative (HSR) training, to specify a HSR can attend a regulator approved training of their choice (recommendation 10)
  • remove the 24-hour notice period for entry permit holders (recommendation 15)
  • align the process for issuing service of notices to provide clarity and consistency (recommendation 16)
  • enable inspectors to require production of documents and answers to questions within 30 days of any inspector’s entry to a workplace (recommendation 17)
  • clarify that a WHS regulator’s power to obtain information relevant to investigations of potential breaches of the model WHS laws has extra-territorial application (recommendation 18)
  • clarify the circumstances in which WHS regulators can share information between jurisdictions (recommendation 19)
  • include gross negligence as a fault element in the Category 1 offence (recommendation 23a)
  • improve regulator accountability for investigation progress (recommendation 24)
  • prohibit insurance for WHS fines and penalties (recommendation 26)
  • improve log book record keeping requirements and operator training for amusement devices and passenger ropeways (recommendation 28)
  • compliance with Standards not mandatory unless specified (recommendation 31b)
  • give effect to recommendations that are minor or technical in nature.

The Implementation of the WHS ministers’ agreed response to the Review of the Model WHS Laws web page has a more detailed overview of the amendments and also discusses a number of review recommendations involved in varying existing or developing new guidance material or model Codes of Practice have also been finalised.

The model WHS Act, Explanatory Memorandum, model WHS Regulations and Explanatory Statement can be accessed via these links:

Key takeaway

As stated above, for these changes to take effect in South Australia the State Government will need to amend the state WHS Act and regulations. Whether any of the recommendations are adopted and when that might occur remains to be seen.

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