Pulling together for safety’s sake

Government departments at all levels will soon be impacted by a national OHS regime. Craig Donaldson looks at what it will mean for the public sector and examines the hallmarks of good practice.

The introduction of a national occupational health and safety (OHS) regime is set to have a significant impact on the public sector.

The change, designed to harmonise and raise the standard of health and safety laws across the country, will come into force on January 1, 2012. Although it is yet to be finalised, this model legislation will allow employers to more effectively manage workplace safety and comply with one set of laws, regardless of which state or territory they operate in.

The main elements of the draft model OHS Act include a broader definition of who a ‘worker’ is; increased duties of care on directors, with breaches of duties of care being classified as criminal offences; conferred powers on authorised union representatives to enter workplaces for OHS purposes; and a wider range of functions and powers for inspectors.

Steve Bell, a senior associate in the workplace health and safety team at law firm Freehills, says many government departments are coming to terms with the imposition of a new duty on senior managers to exercise due diligence for the safety of those affected by their decisions. MORE>>

Read the full report: Pulling together for safety’s sake [PDF]

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