Qld government accepts recommendations following review of state safety legislation
The Queensland government has signalled its intention to accept all 31 recommendations arising from the recently completed 5-year review of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (the Act). Employers are likely to be concerned about increased roles for Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs), along with unions, in the management of safety across workplaces.
The recommendations from the review fell into three broad categories:
- Elevating the role and numbers of HSRs at the workplace;
- Clarifying the rights of HSRs and workplace representatives; and
- Clarifying and streamlining issues and the dispute resolution procedures under the Act.
Some of the more significant proposed changes to the Act include:
- Requiring a PCBU to advise workers, at least annually, of how to establish work groups, how to elect HSRs, and the role, functions and powers of an HSR;
- Negotiations to establish a work group must generally be completed within 14 days of the request;
- PCBUs to notify HSRs when an inspector or WHS entry permit holder is on-site;
- HSRs having the capacity to request the provision of information from a PCBU;
- HSRs being permitted to take photos, make videos, and take measurements and samples in the performance of their role;
- HSRs being permitted to choose their training provider;
- Mandatory HSR Refresher training requirements reduced from three years to 12 months;
- When an HSR issues a direction to the PCBU to cease work, the PCBU has an obligation to cease work that is the subject of the direction until such time as the issue is resolved or the direction is set aside in accordance with the dispute resolution process;
- Reducing the time for compliance with a PIN from eight days to four days;
- A WHS entry permit holder is permitted to remain at the premises for as long as necessary to complete the exercise of their statutory powers, subject to s126 of the Act;
- Waiving the requirement for a WHS entry permit holder to provide 24 hours’ notice before entering a site to review a suspected contravention or consult with workers;
- A PCBU cannot require a WHS entry holder to comply with an OHS requirement on-site if compliance with that requirement would unreasonably hinder or delay the exercise of statutory rights conferred under s117 or s118 of the Act;
- Amending the definition of ‘serious injury’ to refer to situations where an employee has been absent from work for four consecutive days;
- Deleting the requirements for an inspector to be appointed to resolve a WHS dispute before notifying a dispute to the QIRC; and
- Requiring the PCBU to notify of an incident that did not result in a serious injury or illness but had the capacity to do so.
It is understood that the government will introduce an amendment Bill to Parliament later this year to implement the majority of the recommendations.
For queries about the review, the role of HSRs, safety, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 1300 925 529, 0417 622 178 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.