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New OH&S laws for all

Posted by Bestprac on May 07 2010

What are the model work health and safety laws? Why do we need model work health and safety laws?

 

What are the model work health and safety laws?

Safe Work Australia is developing model work health and safety laws as part of an initiative of the Council of Australian Governments. This initiative demonstrates a commitment to improving the work health and safety of all Australian workers and enhancing productivity.

Why do we need model work health and safety laws?

The Commonwealth and each state and territory government have agreed to harmonise their work health and safety laws (including Regulations and Codes of Practice) so that work health and safety laws are similar in each jurisdiction.

The Commonwealth, states and territories are responsible for making and enforcing their own work health and safety laws. Although there are many similarities, there are also some differences between the laws that can cause confusion. Australian workers should be entitled to the same work health and safety standards, wherever they work.

This regulatory inconsistency is being addressed through an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) where, for the first time, governments from each state and territory and the Commonwealth have formally committed to the harmonisation of work health and safety laws. The intention is to harmonise these laws (including the Regulations and Codes of Practice that underpin them) to deliver the same work health and safety protections to all Australians.

How will work health and safety laws be harmonised?

Each jurisdiction will now go through the process of enacting legislation. The intention is to have mirror laws enacted in each jurisdiction.

Minor but necessary variations may be made consistent with relevant drafting protocols and to achieve consistency with other laws and processes operating within a jurisdiction.

When will the changes come into effect?

Each state and territory and the Commonwealth will be required to enact laws that reflect the model work health and safety laws by the end of 2011. It is expected that all laws will commence on 1 January 2012.

Some model Codes of Practice may be developed and implemented at the same time as the model Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations. However, development and implementation of further model Codes of Practice and guidance material will continue beyond December 2011.

How was the model WHS Act developed?

The model WHS Act is the result of a comprehensive national review into work health and safety laws across Australia, which involved substantial public consultation.

Is the current version of the model WHS Act the final version?

WRMC has authorised Safe Work Australia to make some final technical and drafting amendments to ensure that the model WHS Act operates as intended. A final version of the model WHS Act will be published by Safe Work Australia after the process is complete.

When will the next public consultation process happen?
 
The draft model WHS Regulations package will be released in late 2010 for a four month period.

What documents will be available for public comment?

The documents include:

  • Exposure draft of the model WHS Regulations.
  • Model Codes of Practice.

For more information: http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/swa/

Source: Safework Australia, http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/swa/Model+Legislation/FAQs/
 

Last changed: Feb 08 2012

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