National OHS Laws Are Coming

National OHS laws are being introduced on 1st January 2012 that will combine all state occupational health and safety legislation across Australia. This will affect all Australian workplaces – yours included.

If you’re at all unsure about how this huge change to Australia’s OHS legislation will affect you and your business read on.

In 2008, the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations (then Julia Gillard) announced a national review into the model OHS laws.

At present each state has its own OHS legislation. Each state’s legislation covers employees working in that state whether they are employed by a company with its headquarters there or not. This in itself creates problems.

The idea was to remove obvious irregularities between all the different state OHS laws that create a headache for businesses operating across different states. It has been called the harmonisation of the all OHS laws. It is a big thing because of all the significant changes across all jurisdictions of Australia. The most significant thing is that it’s proposing to be a national act … so you’ll find that national businesses can cater for the one act.

Business owners will say this is better for business. It’s better for industry as a whole if we have piece of legislation that’s adopted in each of the states and territories. It makes life easier in that regard.

Following the Commonwealth‘s review of the OHS laws, the Model Work Health and Safety Bill 2009 was recently approved by the Commonwealth as well as most states and territories.Each state and territory is expected to implement laws similar to the model legislation in time for the legislation’s commencement on 1 January 2012. However, the Western Australian and New South Wales governments have not yet agreed to the reforms.

Under the new model legislation, NSW is set to lose the reverse onus of proof in relation to individual liability and unions will lose the power to prosecute for breaches – a change rejected by the NSW Labor Government.

Let’s be clear: the reforms to the occupational, health and safety (OHS) laws in 2012, represent another major development for Australian workplaces – just as big as Workforce Reform did.

Our view is that the Harmonisation is a good law – as long as advice currently being taken from employee and employer groups is heeded. After all Australia is one market and we should behave as one market.

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About the Author

Joanne Wallace is our resident "Safety Guru". Joanne has provided advice on safety management for the past 10 years and written hundreds of articles on safety issues and tips. Joanne has experience in many industries ranging from manufacturing, food processing, timber milling, retail, office and wholesaling providing her with knowledge and experience managing risk and injuries in these industries.

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  1. […] National OHS Laws Are Coming ( […]

  2. Occupational Health and Safety services mainly focuses on the safety procedures to be implemented in an working environment to provide a safe working infrastructure for the people.Risk factors should be well analyzed at first and then preventive measures should be decided to prevent any sort of risks.Depending upon the kinds of risks involved and preventive steps to be taken,a well organized OHS and risk management system should be developed to safeguard the people’s health. An effective OHS consultancy services is needed to provide the guidelines and spread the awareness of OHS issues among the people.

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