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National OHS legislation: new laws reach new levels

NSW will introduce new national health and safety legislation on the 1st January 2012. The new legislation will be uniform in each State and Territory and will allow for simpler transition for workers and businesses when working at different sites throughout Australia.

The new national work health and safety legislation is made up of a model Act, model Regulations and model Codes of Practice. To meet the 1st January 2012 implementation date, work is currently underway to progress the model Work Health and Safety Bill through parliament to become an Act.

The Act will set out the legal requirements that must be met to ensure the health and safety of workers. The model Regulations which will further expand on the requirements of the Act in more detail will outline how to meet the obligations specified in the Act. The draft model regulations and codes of practice, which support the Act, will be released for public comment in December.

Safe Work Australia Chair, Tom Phillips, has encouraged individuals and organisations to participate in the consultation process, which closes April 2011. The model OHS regulations will cover areas such as registration and licences, facilities, first aid, personal protective equipment, emergency plans and major hazards. The codes of practices which are a practical guide for businesses and workers will cover areas such as managing risks, consultation, asbestos, hazardous chemicals, confined spaces, construction hazards, diving, abrasive blasting, logging, welding and spray painting.

Key changes for businesses and workers in NSW are in the explanations of what an employer and worker are and the prominent role that Health and Safety Representatives will play in the workplace.

For further details on the model Act and Regulations visit Safe Work Australia.