13 Apr 2018 Review of the model WHS laws (a quick guide)
We know you’re busy, so we’ve written a summary of what you need to know about the reviews of the work health and safety laws. Click on the relevant links for more information if you require additional information.
Fast Facts on the Review
- Independent review Ms Marie Boland is undertaking the review
- The review is asking for individuals to contribute – click here and share your thoughts.
- The existing WHS laws operate under a harmonised model – i.e. the model can be enforced in every state and jurisdiction. Only Victoria and Western
- Australia haven’t yet implemented this model.
- The model has been designed to be flexible – there is no strict category of employers and employees.
- The model uses ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU) and ‘worker’ to accommodate non-traditional forms of work relationships.
- The PCBU’s are responsible for ensuring the health and safety of the workers.
- This review will analyse whether this framework is effective in addressing the modern workplace’s issues.
- The final report is due in December 2018
The background on the model WHS Laws
In 2011 Safe Work Australia developed new WHS laws. These laws were to be implemented across every state and territory in Australia – this is known as ‘model laws’.
This law is only legally binding if every state and territory implements them. Safe Work Australia created the laws, however, they don’t actually enforce these laws, or regulate them – this is the responsibility of the WHS regulator in the state or territory.
There are three components of the model WHS laws, these are the model WHS Act, the model WHS regulations, and the model Codes of practice.
So why are these laws harmonised?
The harmonisation of these laws were an objective of the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) National Reform Agenda. The harmonisation of the laws is a national attempt at creating a seamless, national approach to WHS laws.
- to protect the health and safety of workers
- to improve safety outcomes in workplaces
- to reduce compliance costs for business, and
- to improve efficiency for regulator agencies.
Essentially, this harmonisation model serves to protect workers, no matter what work they complete or which state they are working in.
What is the purpose of the model WHS Act?
The WHS Act provides a framework to protect the health, safety and welfare of all workers at work and of other people who might be affected by the work. The WHS Act aims to:
- protect the health and safety of workers and other people by eliminating or minimising risks arising from work or workplaces
- ensure fair and effective representation, consultation and cooperation to address and resolve health and safety issues in the workplace
- encourage unions and employer organisations to take a constructive role in improving work health and safety practices
- assisting businesses and workers to achieve a healthier and safer working environment
- promote information, education and training on work health and safety
- provide effective compliance and enforcement measures, and deliver continuous improvement and progressively higher standards of work health and safety.
So why are the model WHS laws being reviewed?
It is one of Safe Work Australia’s responsibility to ensure the model is working effectively across all the jurisdictions. Whilst they are not responsible for the day to day enforcement of the regulations, it is key the WHS laws are serving their purpose.
These laws need to be revised on a regular basis to ensure they are still relevant, and help reduce work-related injuries. Since 2007 there has been a 49% decrease in workplace fatalities. This steady decline is a positive result, however, there is always room for improvement. Developing and implementing a safety management system is another effective way to prevent and reduce workplace accidents.
Businesses working in the agriculture, transport, mining, construction and waste services industries would benefit from implementing a safety management system in their workplace. A safety management system can help create a safer workplace for employees, contractors, and everyone involved in the business.
Contact BusinessBasics today and we can help you develop an effective safety management system for your business.
BusinessBasics can help your Business in Perth, Newcastle, Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane develop your safety management system in line with the model whs act.
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