From January 1 2012, the Australian Government implemented brand new OH&S regulations with the aim to harmonise the legal requirements throughout the nation. Currently, Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory are operating under the new ‘Occupational Health and Safety’ system.
The former lack of standardisation proved to be problematic and the current consistency now allows employers to gain a thorough understanding of their legal obligations through safety training, better ensuring employees’ rights are paramount. Employers also better understand their rights and expectations.
In response to the new laws, the Australian Council of Trade Unions has created their national “Speak Up” campaign. The campaign is designed to empower employees to know their rights and have confidence to voice OH&S matters with the main focus being to reduce death, injury and illness at work.
The campaign provides all workers should:
- Have the option to deny an unsafe work task
- Know all safety hazards involved in their job role
- Be granted access to a qualified safety-officer to represent any occupational health and safety issue
- Overall have an acceptable working environment
To ensure these requirements are met, safety officers must comply with legislation, know how to identify hazards and assess and control occupational health and safety risks. As OH&S training is one of the most important facets of businesses today, these laws will affect a large variety of industries across the nation.
The new harmonisation of occupational health and safety laws brought in on 1 January 2012 bring significant changes workplaces need to be aware of.
- Though the model is labelled a ‘Framework’ each state will govern under separate legislation mimicking that framework
- Individual fines are up to $600,000 or 5 years imprisonment
- Company officers have due diligence requirements
- Company officers have a positive to prevent risk to safety
- Volunteers are now immune
- Fines increase to 3 million for corporate offences
- Obligations are placed on persons conducting business rather than the employers (small businesses and organisations are included)
- The Act makes clearer obligations towards the duties of contractors, referring to workers rather than employees
- All clients and visitors to workplaces have duties
- Consultation is required between all workers rather than employees
With qualified safety officers in high demand now is a better time than ever to find out about completing an OH&S certificate or diploma qualification,
For more on this see the safe at work website and OHS Management for more information.