What Business Thinks of Model WHS Laws

ConflictAustralian business groups have taken opposing positions on changes to the model work health and safety (WHS) laws.

Business Council of Australia (BCA) and Ai Group submissions to the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) review of the model WHS laws reveal conflicting views.

BCA wants the model laws to align more with some elements of the Victorian and WA occupational health and safety schemes. “The review should identify changes to the current model to bring the national scheme into line with best practice, thus providing sufficient incentives for Western Australia’s and Victoria’s OHS to join the national scheme.”

In mounting this argument, BCA points out that, unlike the model laws, officers of a corporation in Victoria are liable for WHS breaches only if the body corporate contravenes the legislation.

Moreover, in WA, WHS representatives (HSRs) do not have the power to stop unsafe work.

Ai Group, on the other hand, is keen to retain the status quo on officers’ duties.

“… Officer definition and duties, as presented in the WHS Act, are appropriate; we also strongly support the retention of the six-part explanation of due diligence,” Ai Group’s submission says.

It even notes that Victoria should “adopt a similar approach in their laws”.

Ai Group also wants to retain the right of HSRs to stop unsafe work. However, it recommends HSR training on this right should include competency-based assessments and sanctioning HSRs who abuse the power.

For more details, visit the BCA and Ai Group submissions.

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Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

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