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Work Health & Safety Legislation – are you compliant?

Release Date

16 May 2012

So the new safety legislation is in and nearly 6 months have passed. How compliant do you think you are if you were to have a workplace inspector come to your premises?

Are you confident that you will be found compliant in the following key areas:
 

  • Are all of your WHS documents up to date?
  • Your consultative arrangement have been changed to reflect the new requirements?
  • Your safety management system now includes sub-contractors and all visitors to your offices/sites?
  • You analyse near misses and communicate to staff the likely cause of those near misses?
  • All senior managers; officers and directors have undertaken some type of update training in the last 6 months on the new legislation and their responsibilities?

It isn’t easy to keep up to date with all of the changes especially in an ever changing landscape of WHS regulations.


What should you focus on then if you don’t think you are compliant?
 

The key aspects of your safety management system must include adequate consultative arrangements; issue resolution, incident notification and investigation, and compliance with regulations such as various licenses and permits.

The onus is on key individuals to demonstrate that they have been proactive and exercised due diligence. Section 252 of the Act is black and white. It highlights that “duties” cannot be contracted out. Overall, the standards are still high and the onus is on PCBUs to be compliant.
 

The WHS legislation also talks about what is “reasonably practicable”.
 

The aim of the WHS Act is to ensure workers and others are afforded the highest level of protection that is reasonably practicable. A duty holder must first consider what can be done, and then consider whether it is reasonable, in the circumstances to do all that is possible.

The “culture” of an organization should encourage “reporting” workplace incidents and near misses and not one where staff avoid reporting such incidents for “fear” of dobbing someone in.

If safety is not taken seriously within your organization then the penalties under the new legislation can be quite significant!

Category 1 offences carry a maximum penalty of $3 million and are now classed as a criminal offence. Category 2 now deals with exposing an individual to risk of death or injury and carries fines of up to $1.5 million. Category 3 offences which relate to failure to comply, carry a maximum penalty of up to $500,000.

The old system was outcome based; the new system includes exposure to hazards and risks. In addition, the fines are significant and you can no longer “buy your way out” of an enforceable undertaking.


So where to from here if you are not sure about the extent of your compliance under the new WHS legislation?
 

You should now undertake an audit of your current safety management system. Get advice. Seek out a WHS specialist to help you assess your entire safety management system and choose one who can give you practical advice that ensures that your system is compliant and ticks all of the boxes!

Ensure you keep up to date. There is a lot to take in, with still more codes and regulations for WHS coming in.

Ask us about our workplace OHS subscription and how you will benefit by subscribing to all of the latest WHS information.

Remember the onus is on you and your workers to take safety seriously. Compliance is mandatory!

For further information, please contact Australian Business Consulting & Solutions on 1800 505 529 or via email

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