Workplace Safety Amendments

Changes to the Commonwealth OHS regulatory framework came into effect this month. The changes have been quite controversial with plenty of political debate, particularly in NSW and Victoria, about potential for confusion where dual coverage under a commonwealth and state legislation may exist. Some see something more sinister; a way for the federal government to wind back some laws that were considered overly harsh on employers and  seen to unfairly support unions.

Under changes that came into force last week, national companies that previously struggled with compliance to several pieces of legislation could now be covered by one national system. In theory one workplace can be covered by two sets of rights and entitlements.

State and Territory OHS laws will no longer apply to those businesses and employees covered under the Commonwealth OHS Act. The changes also expand coverage to private sector organisations self insured under the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988.

The Act now covers more private sector employees than public sector employees. While the number of workers affected is high, at 330,000 it is still a very small number of the national workforce.

What does that mean for you?

State and Territory laws no longer cover some workers. If you are unsure how amendments to these OHS laws apply to your organisation simply ask us at

Changes to regulations you should be aware of:

  • Changes to regulations that apply to major hazard facilities now mean more than ever that those responsible for MHF are going to be more accountable and have a greater obligation to prevent the occurrence of major accidents and to take immediate and substantial steps to minimize the effects of a major incident should one occur.
  • Changes to anti-fatigue management regulations insist employers have a documented management program for managing the fatigue of drivers. This includes heavy vehicles, long haul and buses.  In an effort to close the loop of responsibility the changes also impose direct liabilities on consignors, consignees and other people to prevent them from insisting on unreasonable timeframes being placed on drivers
  • Outline specific duties relating to the use of electricity
  • Set out requirements for the election of health and safety representatives
  • Stricter protection for workers and contractors from hazards on construction sites
  • Requirement of fall prevention for work at heights of 1.8m or more.

About the Author

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

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