New Work Health and Safety Laws in Force
Part 9 of 14 – Workplace Health & Safety Update
Authors: Robin Young, Partner and Nick Read, Solicitor
5 January 2012
If you have not already done so, you should immediately consider whether your business' OHS systems are compliant with the new Work Health & Safety Act 2011 (the WHS Act). The WHS Act came into force on 1 January 2012 and has replaced the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 in NSW.
Irrespective of size or operations each and every business must ensure their OHS systems are compliant with the new laws. In this edition of the Workplace Health and Safety Update we have summarised the key aspects that require immediate attention.
Key aspects of the new laws
The critical aspects of the new laws are as follows:
- The expanded duty of care. The duty is broadened by the new definitions of Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) and Worker. From 1 January 2012 PCBU’s owe a duty to ensure the health and safety as far as reasonably practicable of employees, subcontractors, employees of subcontractors, labour hire employees, apprentices, work experience students, volunteers and others who might be affected by their work. Click here to read about the expanded duty of care.
- The concept of reasonable practicability. The new duty of care requires that businesses ensure the health and safety of workers as far as is “reasonably practicable.” What is reasonably practicable is defined in the WHS Act and this new definition needs to be included in all prospective risk assessments. Click here for more information. At present Safe Work Australia have released 11 model Codes of Practice. These are practical guides to achieving the standards of health, safety and welfare required under the new laws Existing state Codes of Practice that have not been replaced will continue to apply. Businesses should identify which Codes are applicable to their operations and ensure recommended safety controls are adopted. The next edition of our Workplace Health and Safety Update will provide an outline of the new Codes of Practice.
- The obligation on company officers to exercise due diligence in relation to safety matters. Firstly, businesses must identify which officers could be personally liable under the new laws. It will then be necessary to put in place processes to ensure there is adequate communication between the workers and the officers. Click here for more information.
- Knowing what incidents are required to be reported to the Regulator. The definition of notifiable incident has been amended. Businesses should ensure management are trained in the type of incidents that need to be reported. Clear reporting processes should be put in place. Click here for information on what incidents are required to be notified.
- The expanded concept of consultation. Consultation is the action of involving workers in discussions about workplace safety. Given the expanded definition of worker (see above), consultation now must take place with a broader category of people. Further, where there are a number of different businesses working on a site, each business now has an obligation to consult with all other businesses on safety matters. Click here for more information on consultation requirements.
All businesses should urgently consider all the above points. It is also worth noting that the new laws cover many different areas. Should you have any specific queries about how the new laws apply to your business, we recommend that you obtain further advice.
Holman Webb can advise on any aspect of the introduction of the new laws as well as undertake reviews of your OHS systems to ensure compliance. Please do not hesitate to contact our Workplace Relations team members; Robin Young, Rachael Sutton or Nick Read.
T: +61 2 9390 8419
T: +61 2 9390 8422
T: +61 2 9390 8420