The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 has just been approved and released by the NSW Government. The regulations of course, are pertaining to the OHS Harmonisation Laws; more formally known as the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Despite a series of obstacles, NSW has released a finalised and detailed list of regulations that fall under the WHS Act. Some aspects of the regulations pertain to the duties of officers. This includes the duty to provide First Aid in the event of an emergency. Other duties include; the duty to provide, maintain, and implement an emergency plan.. The Danger of breaching the OHS Harmonisation laws can be avoided if one simply follows the detailed regulations.

However, It is important not to be complacent and subsequently neglect some other requirements , since all requirements carry penalties. For example, the aforementioned duty to provide, maintain, and implement an emergency plan might not seem as important as Working At Heights Safety,–however, this duty is just as important, if not more. One  random breach in WHS could result in the accidental death of an employee; but the lack of a quality emergency plan can result in the deaths of many if not all employees. The guidelines for Emergency plans are as follows:

(1) A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must
ensure that an emergency plan is prepared for the workplace, that
provides for the following:

(a) emergency procedures, including:

  • an effective response to an emergency, and
  • evacuation procedures, and
  • notifying emergency service organisations at the earliest
  • opportunity, and
  • medical treatment and assistance, and
  • effective communication between the person authorised
  • by the person conducting the business or undertaking to
  • coordinate the emergency response and all persons at the
  • workplace
(b) testing of the emergency procedures, including the frequency of
testing,
(c) information, training and instruction to relevant workers in
relation to implementing the emergency procedures

                                                                         -(Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011)

 The Maximum penalty: for an individual officer is set at $6,000, but if a corporation is at fault, they would face a penalty of $30,000. The importance in mentioning this regulation lies in the fact that many managers might now be considered safety officers and could thus be liable for any breaches under the WHS act without even knowing it. The entire document includes information regarding liability, the types of safety officers, the various types of breaches as per industry among many other specifics.

 Code of Practice

Various drafts of the Model Codes of Practise have been released and more are expected to follow. Many are specific to each respective industry; however, three specifically affect everyone. These include “How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks”, “How to Consult on Work Health” and finally, “Managing Work Environment and Facilities”

 The Codes are intended for practical uses and are very important in ensuring the day –to-day management of workplace safety. However, the codes can also be used as evidence by the court to indicate what is known about a hazard or risk, and determining what is in fact, practical. Despite this, they are not mandatory as an employer can ensure compliance with the WHS ACT and Regulations by following an alternative method.

What Happens if you breach the WHS regulations?

The accompanying Issues Paper laid out various offences and the potential financial penalties for each. Right now the maximum monetary penalty for breaching the WHS act for standalone corporate offenders is $30,000. However, there is a possibility that this will be increased or even doubled.

The Model Work Health and Safety Act and Regulations are expected to come into effect across Australia in January 2012,

The  OHS Harmonisation laws could not come at a more appropriate time following a growing trend of work place deaths. With over 25 in total thus far, Victoria is home to 9 of them.  With OHS Harmonisation, workers will have the right to refuse or cease any conduct which they feel would endanger their safety.

Source: http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/sessionalview/sessional/sr/2011-674.pdf

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