Employers take note – responsibilities for OHS come into the spotlight as significant changes to Occupational Health and Safety Laws come into effect across Australia from 1 January 2012.
The new reforms are part of a “harmonised” system – rather than a national one. Each state has its own legislation in line with the agreed model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act, but there are variations. By providing wider coverage to reflect contemporary work relationships and an increasingly mobile workforce the reforms apply not only to employees, but also to contractors and their employees, subcontractors, labour hire workers, apprentices and volunteers.
The new reforms bring tougher penalties and “ofﬁcers” of companies (which include directors) will need to exercise due diligence to ensure compliance with OHS laws. There’s also a wider range of enforcement mechanisms for OHS regulators, and a national compliance and enforcement policy will be developed to ensure a consistent regulatory approach across all jurisdictions.
As an employer, it’s important that you review your OHS policies. Ensure that your policies embrace the new reforms and your employees understand the policies and the consequences for breach. Undertaking an audit of your Work Health & Safety compliance will help minimise your business risk and provide a checklist to remedy any non-compliance.
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