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14 Jan 2015

Safety leadership and emergency plans

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December 2014 will forever be remembered by the tragic events that unfolded in Martin Place. Two innocent lives were lost, and a city came together in mourning and solidarity.

The Sydney Siege underlined the importance of taking appropriate steps to protect the community at large. It also highlighted the need for organisations to have a clear emergency plan and to think about implementing appropriate security measures.

Health and safety legislation imposes a duty on entities undertaking work to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their workers and other persons. It also requires workplaces to prepare and implement an emergency plan, and ensure that all workers receive appropriate information, training and instruction.

There is a lesson to be learnt from the Sydney Siege about the importance of implementing an emergency plan that is flexible and responds appropriately to sudden and unexpected situations. During emergency situations, there is a need for leadership, rapid decision making and the availability of appropriate resources.

This is where leaders of organisations and industry need to ensure that their emergency plans incorporate effective procedures for security arrangements, alongside existing health and safety arrangements. Leaders not only make decisions about the allocation of resources within an organisation but play a key role in defining an organisation’s values.

Leaders also need to create a culture that ensures safety is a main priority and encourages people to report errors and unusual activities, promote co-operation, seek feedback and reinforce behaviour that is consistent with company values.

Organisations should ensure that they have an effective emergency plan in place and consider incorporating appropriate security measures in their health and safety arrangements. This would require a shift in the way individuals think and behave when it comes to work, health and safety protocol.

Bill Kritharas, Partner at Sparke Helmore Lawyers

Published on 15 January in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin

Published on 27 November 2013:

After months of waiting, the highly anticipated Work Health and Safety Amendment Bill 2013 (WHS Amendment Act) was passed yesterday by both houses of the NSW Parliament. This gives the District Court jurisdiction over WHS prosecutions brought under the now repealed Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 (OHS Act).

This resolves issues encountered in Empire Waste Pty Ltd and Dean Baldwin v District Court of NSW and Inspector Brock, which challenged the jurisdiction of the District Court to hear matters that were previously heard in the Industrial Court of NSW.

The WHS Amendment Act also resolves problems raised in Attorney General for the State of NSW v Built NSW Pty Ltd, where proceedings were instituted by an unauthorised person, who was an employed solicitor of WorkCover and not the Inspector. Proceedings of this kind may now be brought by an Australian legal practitioner authorised in writing to represent an authorised person.

This Act ensures that various WHS matters are not quashed due to these technicalities. The process of clearing the vast backlog of 160 cases that have been held up will now begin.

Further information
For more information about the effect of these amendments, please see our previous alert or contact:
Carlie Holt, Partner  t: +61 2 9373 1412 | e: carlie.holt@sparke.com.au

Sparke Helmore Lawyers

NSCA are proud to partner with Sparke Helmore Lawyers. NSCA members receive exclusive discounted rates for expert work health and safety legal advice. For more information, please visit: nsca.org.au/sparke.


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