The Work Health and Safety (WHS) Bill was passed by both houses of Parliament last night (1 November 2012) after many delays. The new harmonised legislation will take effect on 1 January 2013, replacing the current Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1986. Whilst this is only under two months away any significantly new requirements will likely have transitional periods to provide businesses and workers with time to prepare.
This will bring South Australia in line with New South Wales, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and the Commonwealth jurisdictions that have already adopted the new laws. Tasmania will also adopt the laws on 1 January 2013.
In order to gain necessary support to pass the legislation the government agreed to MP John Darleys amendments to height limits, clarification on who has a duty of care, the right to silence and right of entry. Changes were also made to training provisions to satisfy the Greens. Greens Industrial Relations Spokesperson Tammy Franks MLC has welcomed the passage of the Government’s Work Health and Safety Bill
“After long and sometimes heated debate this week, the Greens welcome the successful conclusion of the long running stand-off over the Work Health and Safety Bill and the passage of this bill this afternoon.
“It’s clear that the Bill has been improved by successful amendments, including the Greens’ own amendment to bolster training provisions for health & safety representatives.
“The successful passage of the Greens’ training amendment ensures we have health & safety reps in our workforce who are adequately trained and so equipped, aware and actively engaged in the prevention of workplace injuries. Knowledge is power and in this case that knowledge may well save lives.” said Franks.
A media release by Bill Shorten issued today stated, ‘Harmonised WHS laws will reduce red tape and deliver safer workplaces and are estimated to generate national net benefits of $250 million each year over the next 10 years. The laws are also expected to generate productivity improvements of up to $2 billion a year over the same period’
Mr Shorten went on to comment about Victoria and Western Australia’s reluctance to join the rest of the country and encouraged them to introduce their Bills, so workers in their states can also benefit from harmonised laws.