The following is a summary of the key changes due to commence on 1 January 2012 in most States of Australia. In Victoria, these laws commence on the 1st September 2012.
VANA encourages all Newsagents to ACT NOW, and be proactive in creating a safe workplace.
VANA, through its relationship with the ANF is able to offer a program for Newsagents to help them manage these new laws. Click here for all the details.
A summary of the new WHS laws changes are listed below.
Move Away From Employer Definition:
From 1 January 2012, the primary duty of care for workplace safety will sit, not with the employer but rather, with the “Person Conducting the Business or Undertaking” (PCBU). A PCBU may be a corporation, partnership, unincorporated association, a self-employed person, or a sole trader.
Expansion of Duty of Care:
The PCBU concept is much broader than the employer definition it replaces. In simple terms, the introduction of the PCBU definition is designed to break down barriers of responsibility so that there can be more than one party primarily responsible for the health and safety of workers.
Expanded Definition of Worker:
The definition of “worker” has also been expanded to include contractors, subcontractors (or their employees), employees of a labour hire company, volunteers and work experience students, to name but a few. This expanded definition is designed to better reflect the nature of the modern workplace and the types of relationships that now exist within it.
Expanded Obligation to Consult:
The obligation to consult has been significantly expanded to include a requirement for each PCBU to consult downstream, upstream and cross-stream, depending on the nature of the workplace and the other PCBUs it interacts with.
Additional Powers for Representatives:
The role of the Health and Safety Representative (HSR) has been expanded to include the power to stop work or demand remedial action. From 1 January 2012, it will only take one worker to request the appointment of an HSR and an employer must do so.
Officers Required to Exercise Due Diligence:
Officers (adopting the broad Corporations Act definition of an “Officer”), are required to exercise ongoing ‘due diligence’ to ensure that a PCBU meets its WHS obligations. The definition of due diligence requires each and every officer to take positive steps to inform themselves of their organisation’s workplace safety obligations and to ensure that they have adequate systems and procedures in place to comply with these obligations
New Model Codes of Practice:
In conjunction with the introduction of the Model Law, new Model Codes of Practice have been developed. These provide guidance as to how to comply with certain aspects of the new legislation. Courts can reference the Codes to identify what is “reasonably practicable”.
- Maximum penalties have increased significantly. –
- Up to $3 million per breach for a corporation.
- Up to $600,000 per breach, or 5 years’ imprisonment, or both, for a director or officer,
- Up to $300,000 or 5 years’ imprisonment for a worker.
Change in Criminal Jurisdiction:
Whilst in the past directors often referred to the possibility of “going to jail” for workplace safety breaches, the reality was that in the Industrial Court system, offenders were rarely sentenced to a prison term. This may be about to change, with some States now passing jurisdiction for serious offences arising from WHS breaches to the criminal courts. Here, judges are used to imposing prison sentences on a daily basis.
For more details visit www.vana.com.au or contact the VANA team on 03 -8540 7000