Passage of the work health and safety and other legislation amendment bill 2014
Article on DJAG web site
On 3 April 2014, the Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2014 (amendment Act) was passed in the Queensland Parliament. The amendment Act will commence on proclamation which will occur at a date to be determined in the near future. Further advice will be provided when this occurs.
The amendment Act implements findings from the Queensland Government's review of national model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws which commenced in Queensland on 1 January 2012.
The amendment Act will amend legislation to:
- require at least 24 hours, but no more than 14 days, prior notice by WHS entry permit holders before they can enter a workplace to inquire into a suspected contravention. This will align with other entry notification periods in the WHS Act and the Fair Work Act 2009
- increase penalties for non-compliance with WHS entry permit conditions and introduce penalties for failure to comply with the entry notification requirements
- require at least 24 hours, but no more than 14 days, prior notice before any person assisting a health and safety representative can have access to the workplace
- remove the power of health and safety representatives to direct workers to cease unsafe work
- remove the requirement under the WHS Act for a person conducting a business or undertaking to provide a list of health and safety representatives to the WHS regulator
- allow for codes of practice adopted in Queensland to be approved, varied or revoked without requiring national consultation as currently required by the WHS Act
- increase the maximum penalty that can be prescribed for offences in the Electrical Safety Regulation 2013 to 300 penalty units.
The Government is still finalising its response to other issues that were considered during the industry roundtable review of the WHS laws.
The amendment Act and explanatory notes will be available on the WHSQ website and the Office of the Queensland Parliamentary Counsel website in the near future https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/OQPChome.htm
Comment by Tony Dundon
It’s interesting that the amendments are directed at entry permit holders who are generally Union officials. If unions ignore the changes they face fines of up to $22,000.
Government figures quoted in the explanatory notes tabled yesterday along with the changes, show between 2011/12 and 2012/13 Work Health and Safety inspectors responded to 57 right of entry disputes at Queensland worksites.
Inspectors reported that notices were issued on occasions, but that overall none of the issues identified during the disputes were considered to be an immediate or imminent risk to workers or others at the workplace.
In general I believe 24hrs is reasonable notice for access to a workplace, when WHSQ officers can access without notice in any event.
However, I am greatly concerned that HSR can no longer direct a worker to cease unsafe work, may be the baby is being thrown out with the bathwater on this one. Again a reaction to abuse of power or the Liberal Government are overly concerned they could abuse them.
The last three amendments are housekeeping to make the legislation work better, and electrical safety should have severe penalties.