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An expert panel has been established to review and recommend changes to Victoria’s work health and safety (WHS) laws.

The Victorian Government has appointed Dr Claire Noone, Cathy Butcher and Margaret Donnan, among others, to the panel. Noone, Butcher and Donnan have significant policy, regulatory, advocacy and industry experience between them.

The panel will examine WHS compliance, enforcement and promotion. Stakeholder consultation will be undertaken as part of the process.

A report on the panel’s findings is due to the Victorian Minister for Finance, Robin Scott, by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, WorkSafe Victoria has launched a new public awareness campaign about WHS aimed at employers.

“While the majority of employers understand why it is important to maintain a safe workplace, there are still far too many fatalities and injuries occurring every year,” said WorkSafe Chief Executive Clare Amies in a media statement.

“Our campaign shows an employer dealing with the consequences—telling the family, supporting traumatised employees and dealing with a WorkSafe investigation.

“The campaign reminds employers that inspectors visit workplaces anywhere, any day, any time, and the message is a blunt one: If your workers aren’t safe, then neither are you.”

Amies added: “Last year, 20 Victorians lost their lives at work and more than 26,000 workers were hurt seriously enough to receive compensation. Already this year there have been four workplace deaths.”

For more details, visit the Victorian Government and WorkSafe Victoria

Published on 25 February 2016 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin enewsletter – available free every fortnight direct to your email. Subscribe online today

Significant changes to New Zealand’s safety laws will take effect in April next year, following the passage of the Health and Safety Reform Bill through the New Zealand Parliament.

The laws are based on the Model Work Health and Safety laws in Australia and will be called the Health and Safety at Work Act.

However, before being given the New Zealand parliamentary green light, the Reform Bill was amended. This included exempting small businesses with fewer than 20 workers in low-risk sectors from the requirement of having a health and safety representative—even when requested by workers.

Also among the amendments, an officer of an organisation is now defined as a person who has a very senior governance role in the organisation: for example, a chief executive. In an attempt to make the role clear, the bill excludes those who advise or make recommendations to an officer.

Regulations and guidance material are being created to support the new Act.

For more details, visit the new laws

Published on 8 October 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin enewsletter – available free every fortnight direct to your email. Subscribe online today.

Thousands of pages of explosives regulations are now under review in Australia.

Safe Work Australia has released the ‘Explosives Regulation in Australia: Discussion Paper and Consultation Regulation Impact Statement’. The aim is to find out what industry and other stakeholders think about the current state of explosives regulation in Australia and if changes are needed.

The discussion paper notes that each state and territory currently has its own extensive explosives regulatory system, and in 2009 more than 4000 pages of regulations governed explosives across Australia.

Pre-empting feedback from industry stakeholders wanting to see the introduction of nationally consistent regulations, Safe Work Australia also wants to know how stakeholders would like this to be achieved. The discussion paper includes suggestions, such as referring state powers to the Commonwealth, implementing national applied laws where legislation enacted in one jurisdiction is applied in others, or using a national model law.

Submissions are open until 10 September.

For more details, visit the discussion paper

Published on 13 August 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin enewsletter

A bill has been introduced into federal parliament to stop employers from leaving the Comcare scheme without contributing to the cost of current or future workers compensation liabilities.

The Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Legislation Amendment (Exit Arrangements) Bill 2015 enables Comcare to set and collect “exit contributions” from former Commonwealth authorities and successors of former Commonwealth authorities before they leave the Comcare scheme. In addition, it can set and collect ongoing regulatory contributions from employers or successor bodies that have left the scheme.

The bill also provides for employees who are injured before their employer leaves the Comcare scheme to continue receiving rehabilitation.

Among other amendments, the bill clarifies that premiums for current Commonwealth authorities and entities should be based on the principle that current and prospective liabilities should be fully funded by Comcare-retained funds.

For more details, visit the bill

Published on 12 March 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin

The Western Australian (WA) Government is seeking to consolidate its state resources safety laws and have one government body regulate the laws.

The government wants mining, petroleum and Major Hazard Facilities (MHF) safety laws regulated by one Act and the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP), or two Acts and the DMP.

Currently, six Acts cover resources safety, and WorkSafe and DMP regulate safety at MHFs, with WorkSafe regulating general work health and safety (WHS), and DMP regulating process safety.

A consultation paper discussing the government’s proposal plus other options for administering the laws has been released for public comment.

Other options in the paper include partially consolidating the laws into separate safety-specific Acts, as well as retaining the status quo of six separate Acts and two regulators.

Changing the content of the laws is not a consideration of this consultation paper.

Public comment closes on Friday, 19 December 2014.

For more details, visit the consultation paper

Published on 20 November 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.


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