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NSW Work Health and Safety legislation implementation program

In another step towards NSW commitment to the harmonisation of work health and safety laws, the NSW parliament last month passed the Work Health and Safety Bill 2011 and the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Bill 2011. Both Bills were assented on the 7th June 2011.

The new Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation which will take effect from 1 January 2012, will introduce changes to the way work health and safety is currently administered in the workplace. As part of this commitment to the implementation of the model laws, a Work Health and Safety legislation education program funded under the 2010 WorkCover Assist Grants Program, will be delivered by NSW Business Chamber.

The program is designed to raise awareness of the new work health and safety legislation for small to medium sized businesses in NSW and to provide educational material to enable businesses to meet their legislative obligations under the new laws.

The program will be delivered in two stages involving the delivery of a series of seminars throughout metropolitan and regional NSW. The first series of seminars proposed for September through to November will provide information on key changes resulting from the Model Work Health and Safety Act. This will be supported by a second series of seminars in 2012 to inform businesses on the key changes arising from the Model Work Health and Safety Regulations.

Key changes for NSW include;

  • Work health and safety replaces the term occupational health and safety
  • An employer will be known as ‘persons conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU) with the focus on the work arrangements and relationships to carry out the work
  • The duties of PCBUs are generally consistent with those currently in place for employers under NSW OHS legislation however there is a more focused approach on a positive duty encompassing all persons likely to impact on the workplace and on workers or to have an effect on the health and safety of the people doing the work.
  • PCBUs can be an employer, body corporate, unincorporated body, partnership, association or sole trader and will need to consult with other PCBUs about work health and safety
  • Qualification of the term reasonably practicable under the general duties of care
  • Employees will be replaced with the term workers who will now also become duty holders for their own workplace safety
  • Introduction of health and safety representatives (HSRs) who will be the primary work health and safety mechanism for workers to voice their health and safety concerns
  • Requirement to hold an entry permit for members of employee authorised representatives.

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