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Work Health and Safety

The Regulator, Inspectors and Enforcement

This part of the Guide deals with the Regulator and other issues. I’ve left out the stuff on Inspectors, as it is not so relevant; I’ve deliberately excluded material on Enforcement as I think that ‘waving the big stick’ at people is counter-productive.

All “the text” below is from The Guide – please see the Disclaimer and Copyright Statement. I have edited the text to remove some non-essential material.

Role of the Regulator (sections 152-154)

The National Compliance and Enforcement Policy (NCEP) sets out the approach work health and safety regulators take to compliance and enforcement under the WHS Act and Regulations.

Each state, territory and the Commonwealth will continue to have its own regulator to administer the WHS laws in their jurisdiction.

Regulators have a broad range of functions including to:

  • monitor and enforce compliance with the WHS Act and WHS Regulations
  • provide advice and information on work health and safety to duty holders and the community
  • foster a cooperative, consultative relationship between duty holders and the people to whom they owe work health and safety duties, and their representatives
  • promote and support education and training on matters relating to work health and safety
  • engage in, promote and coordinate the sharing of information to achieve the object of the WHS Act, including the sharing of information with other work health and safety regulators
  • conduct and defend legal proceedings under the WHS Act
  • collect, analyse and publish statistics relating to work health and safety, and
  • promote public awareness and discussion of work health and safety matters in the community.

Power of the Regulator to Require Documents and Information (section 155)

The regulator has powers to obtain information by written notice if it reasonably believes a person is capable of giving information, providing documents or giving evidence:

  • in relation to a possible contravention of the WHS Act, or
  • that will assist in monitoring or compliance.

The written notice must be served on the person requiring them to do one or more of the following:

  • provide a signed statement on the required matters within the time and in the manner specified in the notice
  • produce the required documents, or
  • appear before a person appointed by the regulator on a day, and at a time and place specified in the notice (which must be reasonable in the circumstances), and provide the required information and documents. The person may attend with a legal practitioner.

The regulator may only require a person to appear in person after taking all reasonable steps to obtain the required information by other means. It is an offence to refuse or fail to comply with a request without reasonable excuse. However a person may refuse to produce a document or information that is subject to legal professional privilege.

While the regulator may compel answers, self-incriminating answers to questions or information provided cannot be used as evidence against an individual in civil or criminal proceedings, other than proceedings arising out of the false or misleading nature of the answer, information or document.

Now, the bold text in the final sentence is interesting. It’s always better to cooperate with the regulator!

Functions and powers of inspectors (sections 160-162, 171, 172)

Inspectors have the following general functions and powers:”

… I have left out this large section, as it is mostly concerned with workplaces, not design or system safety.

Safety Artisan Instructional Videos cover many of these Topics – follow the ‘WHS Page’ Link, below:

Back to: Model WHS Page | WHS Page | Main Page

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Work Health and Safety

WHS Regulations and Codes of Practice

WHS Regulations

The WHS Regulations specify the way in which some duties under the WHS Act must be met and prescribes procedural or administrative requirements to support the WHS Act (for example requiring licences for specific activities and the keeping of records).

All quotes are from the Guide. See the Disclaimer and Copyright Statement.

The WHS Regulations run to over 600 pages! The Safety Artisan will produce guidance material about WHS Regulations soon…

Codes of Practice

Codes of Practice provide practical guidance on how to meet the standards set out in the WHS Act and the WHS Regulations. Codes of Practice are admissible in proceedings as evidence of whether or not a duty under the WHS laws has been met. They can also be referred to by an inspector when issuing an improvement or prohibition notice.

It is recognised that equivalent or better ways of achieving the required work health and safety outcomes may be possible. For that reason compliance with Codes of Practice is not mandatory providing that any other method used provides an equivalent or higher standard of work health and safety than suggested by the Code of Practice.”

The Guide.

There are several Code of Practice, and they are vitally important to understanding obligations under Australian WHS. The Safety Artisan will produce more material about WHS Codes of Practice, soon…

Interpretive Guidelines

Interpretive guidelines are a formal statement on how WHS regulators believe key concepts in the WHS Act operate and in doing so provide an indication of how the laws will be enforced.”

The Guide.

The Interpretive Guidelines explain some key concepts in WHS – such as PCBUs and Officers of the PCBU – so they are very useful! The Safety Artisan will produce more material about WHS Interpretive Guidelines, soon…

Safety Artisan Instructional Videos cover most of these Topics – follow the ‘WHS Page’ Link, below:

Back to: Model WHS Page | WHS Page | Main Page

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Snapshot

Snapshot – Australian WHS

A snapshot: What is the Australian Work Health and Safety Act?

Nationally harmonised work health and safety laws

The WHS Act like that of most other jurisdictions is based on the ‘model’ WHS Act developed by Safe Work Australia. The aim is to provide all workers in Australia with the same standard of health and safety protection regardless of the work they do or where they work. A stronger national approach means greater certainty for businesses (particularly those operating across state borders) and over time reduced compliance costs for business. More consultation between businesses, workers and their representatives, along with clearer responsibilities will make workplaces safer for everyone. The harmonised work health and safety laws apply in the majority of jurisdictions. For more information about whether they apply in your jurisdiction check with your local regulator.

GUIDE TO THE MODEL WORK HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT, March 2016, ISBN 978-0-642-78409-4

Back to: WHS Page | Main Page

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