OHS Newsletter March 2012 – OHS Harmonisation
Welcome to AlertForce’s first monthly newsletter which will focussing on OHS
Harmonisation. This will give you a snapshot of the major issues at hand.
1. WHS Consultation
Are you prepared for WHS legislation consultation, co-operation and co-
ordination requirements? What’s changed?
It could be said that nothing has changed and workplaces have always been
required to consult, co-ordinate and co-operate on safety and welfare issues.
Key differences from 1 January 2012 are:
• The positive and holistic approach to participation by all workers in
health and safety matters; and
• Business (or PCBUs) must consult, so far as is reasonably practicable,
with workers who carry out work for the business and who are, or are
likely to be, directly affected by a health and safety matter.
The approach to effective consultation will differ for each workplace, but
the time to plan for and achieve this should not be underestimated. See
the AlertForce website for a checklist to help you develop your consultation
strategy. Visit at alertforce.com.au/ohs-harmonisation-checklist
Businesses of all shapes and sizes should undertake a detailed analysis of:
• Do we interact with and do business with other WHS duty holders?
• Who needs to be consulted?
• How do we currently consult with each stakeholder or group?
• Are the current consultation mechanisms effective? Has our safety
management system improved under our current practices?
• Are our workers, health and safety representatives and committee
members competent at consulting, co-ordinating and co-operating on
work health and safety matters?
• What internal and external resources and support services do we have
to achieve compliance?
• Who has responsibility for developing / improving and implementing
our consultation mechanisms?
• Do we have consultation and communication charter and standards?
• How will the effectiveness of our consultative arrangements be
2. Transition arrangements – Yes or no?
Safe Work Australia (SWA) developed transition principles for the Model Act
and Regulations. What does this mean in practical terms, particularly the
Regulations Principle A – “where a duty under the model WHS Regulations is
the same or very similar and has the same critical elements as a duty under
pre-harmonised regulations, the WHS Regulation should apply immediately”
(each set of principles are at the SWA website)?
The application of the transition principles is unclear, so in the best interest
of your business, we recommend that you plan for a commencement date of
1 January 2012. This will also help to maintain the momentum many of you
have already generated.
3. ‘Harmonised’ Resources
The main object of the WHS Act is “to provide for a balanced and nationally
consistent framework to secure the health and safety of workers and
In keeping with this approach, Codes of Practice and other guidance material
are underway. The best of existing Codes of Practice and other documents
and are being further improved and developed into national guidance
The first round of Codes are very close to finalisation and available from Safe
Work Australia. Follow the progress of these and other material at the SWA
website (safeworkaustralia.gov.au/) or join our free weekly online OHS news
service at alertforce.com.au.
4. Non-Compliance Penalties
WHS non-compliance may cost in more ways than one. Businesses and any
individual worker may face penalties, jail and fines if there is reckless conduct
or reasonable WHS due diligence processes are inadequate or not complied
with. They can be imposed for near misses or inadequate systems – not
just for injury or harm to people or property. A guide to financial penalties for
individuals and corporations is:
Category 1 $300k to $3m
Category 2 $150k to $1.5m
Category 3 $50k to $500k
5. WHS Training
The WHS Act specifies that PCBUs (businesses) have a primary duty to
provide as far as reasonably practicable any information, training, instruction
or supervision that is necessary to protect all persons from risks to their health
and safety arising from work carried as part of the business.
In practice, different training methods are needed for different situations and
learning styles. AlertForce can provide online accredited and awareness
training as well as face to face training for your workers, volunteers and
contractors. Contact us for more in
6. Volunteers – don’t let them slip through the cracks….
Businesses and society as a whole benefit greatly from the unpaid work of
volunteers. Under WHS law, any person carrying out paid or unpaid work
for and on behalf of a PCBU is classified as a worker and is owed a primary
duty of care duty. Volunteers must be involved in consultation, training and
instruction, developing and implementing risk controls and all other activities
that apply to paid workers. Contact AlertForce for information on our volunteer
7. Due Diligence – you know the term – do you know what to do?
Officers of a PCBU have an obligation to ensure a due diligence framework is
implemented. There are six key elements:
- Understand the nature of the operations, risks and hazards
- Have adequate knowledge of health and safety matters
- Timely response to incidents and issues
- Legal compliance
- Allocate resources and processes
- Verify resources and processes – monitor and audit.
Further information on applying due diligence will be available in coming
8. WHS for Councils
The diversity of local government and the direct relationship with communities
means councils face unique challenges in addressing WHS compliance.
Despite the exemption of elected members under the WHS ‘officer’ definition,
the influence (directly of indirectly) they have on health and safety matters
should be understood by officers and workers responsible for safety systems.
Councilors must also be aware of their duty of care and should have an
understanding of the WHS legal framework that their council and constituents
operate in. We suggest elected members are fully briefed on the changes and
updated on council’s progress with compliance.
Karen Glover, who was responsible for rolling our the Statecover sessions, is
now working for AlertForce. If you need help or advice, please call Karen on
0409 886 673.
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