none

New OHS laws ‘under a cloud’

19-10-2010
by 
in 

NSW's threat to withdraw from national OHS law harmonisation could have wide sweeping implications for employers, according to safety experts.

Employers attending the Safety Show in Sydney will be brought up to date with the proposed changes at free harmonization workshops.

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally says NSW will “go it alone” unless unions retain the right to prosecute employers for work safety breaches and that the onus of proof remains on employers to show they exercised due care.

Safety Show, lawyer and Deacons Partner, Michael Tooma says Ms Keneally’s comments highlight the "inherent vulnerability in the model adopted for harmonisation which requires each state and territory to introduce laws consistent with the model".

Prime Minister Julian Gillard said earlier this year the harmonisation of OHS laws would be among her greatest political achievements.

“With WA and NSW now opting out of the process for opposite reasons, this 'mission accomplished' declaration may seem premature in hindsight," Mr Tooma says.

"The current regulatory framework adopted for harmonisation is at the mercy of every change of policy direction by a state or territory government as has occurred in this case or indeed a change of government as occurred in WA during the harmonisation process which lead to that state opting out of the reforms. The so called 'jurisdictional notes' in the Model Act and the intergovernmental agreement allow a great deal of wiggle room for governments seeking to put their own policy spin on the 'harmonised laws'."

The Safety Show's principal sponsor, WorkCover NSW, will also host workshops on harmonisation during The Safety Show Sydney.

The topic will be discussed in more detail at The Safety Conference, to be held by the Safety Institute of Australia concurrently with The Safety Show.

Conference speaker and general manager (workplace solutions) of the NSW Business Chamber, Greg Pattison said he hoped NSW’s decision was not “a fatal blow to the harmonisation process."

"The two issues which the unions hold dear are also critical for employers as they go to the fairness and credibility of the system, Mr Pattison said.

 "I expect there will be a resolution and harmonisation will proceed with NSW as part of the process.  The system will be under scrutiny once it starts in 2012 – employers will be looking to see if it does deliver on the promise.

"The real test will be whether or not the harmonised laws are translated into consistent action across jurisdictions. Will regulators go about their task consistently, will the courts interpret the legislation the same way, and will breaches be treated in broadly the same way and result in comparable penalties?

"If the answers to those questions show unacceptable levels of divergence, it seems almost inevitable the value of harmonisation will come under question and the credibility of the new system will be substantially undermined."

The Safety Show and Sydney Materials Handling will run during Safe Work Australia Week at the Sydney Showground from October 26 to 28.

For more information visit: www.thesafetyshow.com and www.sydmaterialshandling.com.au

Related news & editorials

  1. 16.08.2021
    16.08.2021
    by      In
    Made a program change you wish you hadn't? Lose the only copy of the device program? Not sure if the program running is the right one?
    Control Logic’s ‘Vault’, powered by MDT AutoSave Change Management software, is a plug-and-play system to help reduce errors and downtime, increase productivity,... Read More
  2. tank
    12.07.2021
    12.07.2021
    by      In , In
    A collaborative partnership between Lockheed Martin, Australian manufacturer Omni Tanker and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) will look to develop and commercialise world-first composite tank technologies, thanks to a grant from the Federal Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre... Read More
  3. 3D printer
    12.07.2021
    12.07.2021
    by      In , In
    Obsolescence is an unavoidable part of any manufacturing environment. However, it’s concerning that nearly 70% of companies admit they do not know when vital equipment requires replacing, or when they do, they scramble to find replacements. Here, Claudia Jarrett, country manager at automation parts... Read More
  4. circuit breaker
    09.07.2021
    09.07.2021
    by      In , In
    Distributor Control Logic has announced the availability of the PULS PISA-B electronic protection module.
    The all-new PISA-B generation is one of the most compact protection module solutions on the market, with eight completely separated, individually adjustable channels to ensure reliable... Read More
Products
Suppliers