OHS Harmonisation Update – NSW

Transitional arrangements have been put in place in NSW to support businesses, industry and workers move to a new system of work health and safety (WHS) laws.

These arrangements start on 1 January 2012.

The transitional arrangements have been based on national transitional principles agreed to by all jurisdictions.

In summary, these transitional arrangements provide for:

  • recognition of existing information, records or other documentation that is substantially the same as WHS requirements
  • transitional periods of 12 to 18 months where there is a change in training requirements
  • only requiring retraining or reassessment if the requirements are substantially different
  • transitional periods of 6 to 12 months (in most cases 12 months) where a duty or requirement is new
  • up to 24 months for some new obligations where industry might have difficulty in complying for reasons beyond their control. 

Educational and advisory approach

WorkCover is committed to ensuring that the transition to the new WHS legislation is as seamless as possible for businesses, industry and workers. WorkCover staff are always on hand to provide advice and assistance and we strongly believe that the best outcomes for businesses and workers are achieved when we work hand in hand with industry. 

From 1 January 2012, new nationally harmonised work health and safety legislation commences in New South Wales.  The new legislation will replace the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 and Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001.

The principles of safety and consultation remain in the new legislation and people who comply with requirements as at 31 December 2011 will be well on their way to complying with the new legislation on 1 January 2012.

WorkCover will provide information, guidance, education and advice to assist customers to achieve compliance with new requirements contained in the work health and safety laws. 

A range of transitional measures have also been put in place to assist customers where there are new or significantly changed requirements.  

This does not mean that WorkCover will not take enforcement or other compliance action in the event of serious breaches of the legislation.  Currently, anyone who is an employer in NSW must, so far as is reasonably practicable, ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of all the employees of the employer and that duty will continue after 1 January 2012.

However WorkCover and its Inspectors will consider relevant circumstances before taking any compliance action. 

Codes of practice provide practical guidance on how to meet the standards set out in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.  Inspectors will use the guidance provided in codes of practice to assist duty holders to achieve compliance with any new safety practices, processes and control measures recommended in approved codes of practice.

WorkCover understands that where new approved codes of practice are in place a period of adjustment is required for duty holders to gain an understanding of the detail in a code of practice and how it applies to activities at their workplaces.

 Codes of practice:

Some current NSW codes of practice will continue after 1 January 2012. This will be where there is no comparable national model code of practice available.  

All new and retained codes of practice are available on this website.


Call 13 10 50 for more information about transitional arrangements.

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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