What are WHS/OHS regulations and codes of practice?
While most people understand that the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act was created to help minimise risks and prevent workplace injuries, the laws are still confusing.
You may want to know the difference between Legislation and Codes of Practice or whether you need to take WHS training courses. Here is what you should know about these Regulations (Regs):
WHS Regs Help Support Government Acts
The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 revised Workplace Safety Regulations and Codes of Practice that were adopted in 1985. The Regs went through a series of updates over the years, including the development of the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011. The new act has now been implemented by almost every state except Victoria and Western Australia where OHS Acts remain.
What Is the Difference Between Legislation and WHS Regs?
The WHS legislation was introduced in 2011. The WHS laws are managed by Safe Work Australia, which was established in 2009 to help coordinate the national efforts to improve health and safety laws in the country. The WHS act also includes Regulations and Codes of Practice, which were again updated with the WHS Regulation 2017.
The model WHS Regulations 2011 were not legally binding until the legislation was passed. An act is first introduced as legislation. A series of steps then needed to be completed before the Workplace Health and Safety Act, Regs, and Code of Practice were fully implemented.
Before the Safety Act 2011 became enforceable national law, it needed to be implemented by every state and territory in Australia. The Commonwealth also adopted these laws. After these steps were taken, the Act and its Regs became legally binding.
Currently, Victoria and Western Australia have not implemented the WHS model Act. However, all other states are already on board. For example, the occupational health and safety Queensland regs are now the WHS QLD Regulations. The WHS rules now help streamline and clarify the original safety laws.
New South Wales (NSW) also implemented the regulations. Prior to 2015, the health and safety of workers were managed by WorkCover NSW. Employees and employers must comply with the WHS Regulation 2011 NSW requirements, which are regulated by SafeWork NSW. The full list of areas that have implemented the laws include:
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales
- Northern Territory
- South Australia
- The Commonwealth
The Regs include many details designed to help protect workers. One of these rulings includes the need for employers to establish workers compensation policies. If a WHS regulator NSW finds that an organisation violated one of these regulations, the organisation may face steep fines.
Understanding the Core Parts of the Health and Safety Act
There are three primary components to the details outlined in the WHS laws. These components include the WHS Act, the WHS regulations, and the WHS Code of Practice. The scope of each component varies.
The Safety Act is a description of health and safety laws that are introduced as legislation. It includes details related to the duties and responsibilities of each group in the workplace. It is a generalised declaration that outlines the requirements for workplace safety.
The details of each health and safety regulation are designed to support the Act. These Regulations include detailed requirements. Instead of stating that a worker must have access to safe working conditions, the Regulations help explain who is responsible for the worker’s safety.
Codes of Practice are used to help employees and employers conduct risk management and analyze the safety of the work conditions. The Codes of Practice include practical guides for meeting the standards that are set in the regulations and overall act.
Basically, the Act is legislation that includes the initial set of laws introduced to the parliament. The regulations are details for complying with the laws. The codes of practice are instructions for complying with the regulations.
The latest regs are for everyone’s protection. They are also relatively easy to follow, depending on the industry. In most cases, there are training courses available to help ensure compliance.
Examples include asbestos removal training courses and fatigue management. These courses help ensure that you or your employees comply with the WHS safety regulation 2011 and the codes of practice. Stay up to date with the latest Regulations and training to help reduce workplace accidents.
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