July 2018 – Newsletter

Changes for 2018 begins!

The old saying is that “change is a good thing”!

In the world of safety and compliance keeping up with the changes is a “challenge

So, a new financial year begins and so do amendments to the WHS Act.

The Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2017 (the Amendment Act) became enforceable as of July 2018.

An over view of the changes is below:

Provisions to commence on 1 July 2018:

  • restoring the status of codes of practice as existed under the repealed Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 to require the safety measures in a code to be followed unless equal to or better than measures can be demonstrated
  • mandating training for Health and Safety Representatives within six months of being elected to the role, with refresher training to be undertaken at three-yearly intervals
  • introducing the ability for a PCBU to appoint a Work Health and Safety Officer (WHSO)
  • requiring a PCBU to display a current list of WHSOs for the workplace
  • enabling the appointment of a WHSO or the election of a HSR to be permissible as evidence that a PCBU has taken action to mitigate health and safety risks, and
  • clarifying inspector investigation powers under section 171 of the WHS Act to ensure these powers are not inappropriately limited by a legal technicality.

Provisions to commence on proclamation:

  • expansion of the jurisdiction of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) to hear and determine disputes relating to work health and safety issues, cease work matters, requests for assistance by Health and Safety Representatives, and the provision of information to Health and Safety Representatives. Disputes will not be able to be lodged with the QIRC until 24 hours after an inspector has been requested to assist with resolving a dispute and the dispute remains unresolved
  • establishing an independent statutory office for work health and safety prosecutions. The statutory office will be headed by a WHS Prosecutor appointed by the Governor-in-Council for a five-year renewable term, and enabling inspectors to make a determination about whether the WHS entry permit holder has a valid right of entry or has complied with notice requirements under sections 119 or 122 of the WHS Act.

A number of these points have been in direct consultation with key stakeholders and the recommendations from Best Practice Review of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.

A number of the new provisions, including the introduction of the Industrial Manslaughter charge and the obligations on PCBUs to provide a list of HSR’s and a copy of any provisional notice received to the regulator, commenced 1st July, on the date of assent. The remaining amendments to the WHS Act will commence on either the 18th of July 2018 or on a date to be fixed by proclamation.

So, what to do in preparation?

The new legislation introduces some significant changes to the way WHS will be monitored and enforced. Before these provisions come into effect, there are three things every PCBU should be doing:

  • identifying any existing Codes of Practice which will apply to the PCBU and assessing current compliance levels;
  • organizing training programs for current and future HSR’s to ensure PCBU obligations will be met; and
  • consideration of whether appointing a WHSO under the new voluntary scheme would be useful given the evidentiary value it can provide.

Something to work through.

Happy to clarify any of the above changes with the exact wording from the Amendments Act should you require.

Happy to chat about your requirements and the business needs.

Until next time. Stay safe and well.

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