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Work Health and Safety Board and committees

The Work Health and Safety Board and its committees are established under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 to enable industry consultation about work health and safety.

Work Health and Safety Board

The Work Health and Safety Board is the peak advisory body to the Queensland Government on work health and safety matters. The primary function is to give advice and make recommendations to the Minister about policies, strategies, allocation of resources and legislative arrangements for work health and safety.

The Work Health and Safety Board consults with employers, workers and their representative organisations, as well as the work health and safety community to get industry feedback.

The Work Health and Safety Board meets at least four times a year and information relating to our most recent meetings can be accessed here:

2023–26

The Work Health and Safety Board (Board) met on 22 November 2023  with the Chair, Ms Linda Lavarch, welcoming members to the first meeting of  the new Board.

The Chair facilitated discussions  that focused on establishing a foundation for the Board’s three-year term  including:

  • Endorsing the Board terms of reference, a key governance  document which has been developed to support the operations of the Board;
  • Establishing a working group to undertake preliminary planning  to develop the Board’s strategic plan;
  • Identifying topics for strategic presentations at future Board  meetings noting strong interest in psychosocial, occupational violence and HSR  issues;
  • Update on the three Focus Groups of the previous Board which  were established to engage and discuss identified issues.
  • Reviewing the reporting to enable the Board to undertake its  legislative function; and
  • Approving the Board 2024 meeting schedule.

Mr Peter McKay, the  Deputy Director-General of the Office of Industrial Relation (OIR), outlined  his plans for positive cooperation between the Board and OIR. Mr McKay advised  that OIR can support the Board’s deliberations to advise the Minister by  providing a regulator dashboard report with key indicators of system  performance as well as OIR’s intelligence and analysis to assist with discussions  on topics.

Members considered reports presented by the OIR  Executive Directors including:

  • The Queensland Fatalities report (January to June 2023) noting OIR  will pilot a new style of Business Intelligence compliance reporting to assist  the Board to focus on strategic matters;
  • Policy and legislative updates advising the progress on the WHS  Act review Bill and priorities for the development of codes of practice; including  the impact of the Managing the risk of psychosocial hazards at work Code of  Practice 2022 and the Amusement Devices Code of Practice 2023 which reflects  the finalisation of all requirements from the Dreamworld coronial inquest;
  • A Safe Work Australia (SWA) update noting SWA is the national policy  group for WHS and has a comprehensive unit which develops policy.
  • The Service Delivery Transformation (SDT) Program update, an  ICT-enabled program which will transform the core service delivery functions of  OIR which is planned to go-live by end 2024.

The next meeting of the Board will be held on Wednesday, 21  February 2024.

2020–23

The Work Health and Safety Board (Board) met on 5 July 2023, the last meeting for the current Board, as the term concluded on 12 July 2023.

Mr Peter McKay, the new Deputy Director-General of the Office of Industrial Relation (OIR) joined the meeting to discuss the Board’s Strategy Map and the relationship and support for the Board and OIR. Mr McKay outlined his plans for positive cooperation between the WHS Board and OIR and the importance of data to inform strategy.

The Commissioner for Electrical Safety and the Chair of the Electrical Safety Board (ES Board), Mr Keith McKenzie, attended part of the Board meeting as a guest to foster greater collaboration on enhancing WHS outcomes for all Queenslanders.

The Board discussions included the benefit of the development of a one-year Work Health and Safety Strategic Plan to support the development of a five-year strategic plan. The Board approved the WHS Board’s terms of reference, a key governance document which has been developed to support the operations of the Board. The Board continued discussions for a WHS legacy for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games and a joint discussion will be recommended for the new Board with OIR.

Members considered reports provided by the Board’s three Focus Groups including:

  • The Psychological Health and Safety Focus Group tabled its concluding report noting the successful work completed with OIR in supporting the implementation of the Managing the risk of psychosocial hazards at work Code of Practice (Code) which came into force on 1 April 2023.
  • The Regulatory Capability and Performance Focus Group presented a report on “Work Health and Safety Inspectorates’ Approaches to Inspector Training and Capacity Building” with the aim to contribute to the debate on how OIR can best build the capability of the Queensland work health and safety inspectorate. The Focus Group identified issues for the incoming Industry Sector Standing Committees to review with the aim to improve the provision of information by the regulator to businesses, undertakings, workers, employer associations and unions. Members agreed the Focus Group should now conclude with a new focus group established in the new term to concentrate on one of the specific short-term issues identified for further work by the Regulatory Capability and Performance Focus Group.
  • The Board supported a report from the Worker Consultative Arrangements (including Health and Safety Representatives) Focus Group be provided on OIR’s draft Worker Consultation, Representation and Participation Strategy 2023-2026.

As this meeting was the last meeting of the Board’s current term - which concludes on 12 July 2023 - members reflected on progress made against its Strategy Map and advice for the Minister, incoming Board and OIR.

The WHS Board Chair, Mr Jorgen Gullestrup, thanked members for their dedication and contribution over the past three years.

The next meeting of the Board will be set after the appointment of the new WHS Board.

At the Work Health and Safety Board (Board) meeting held on 27 April 2023, the Board met with the Electrical Safety Commissioner, Mr Keith McKenzie, and the acting Deputy Director-General of the Office of Industrial Relation (OIR), Ms Megan Barry.  The Board discussed proposed work on the development of a Work Health and Safety Strategic Plan and heard about progress made by the Board’s Psychological Health and Safety Focus Group and the Regulatory Capability and Performance Focus Group which were established in December 2022, as well as the first meeting of the Worker Consultative Arrangements (including Health and Safety Representatives) Focus Group.

The Commissioner for Electrical Safety and the Chair of the Electrical Safety Board (ES Board), Mr Keith McKenzie, attended part of the Board meeting as a guest speaker. The Board valued the opportunity to meet with Commissioner McKenzie and received an update on the ES Board’s key focus areas and work towards a proposed new ES Board strategic plan, while also exploring key trends, matters of mutual interest and opportunities for the WHS Board and ES Board to work more closely in the future. The Board has extended Commissioner McKenzie a standing offer to attend future Board meetings to foster greater collaboration on enhancing WHS outcomes for all Queenslanders. Opportunities for hosting regular joint WHS Board and ES Board meetings was also considered beneficial.

The acting Deputy Director-General of OIR, Ms Megan Barry, engaged in a wide-ranging discussion with the Board and discussed interim arrangements for the Deputy Director-General role until a permanent Deputy Director-General can be appointed later in the year.

At its fourth meeting on 12 April, the Psychological Health and Safety Focus Group continued discussions with OIR and the Office of the Work Health and Safety Prosecutor about supporting the implementation of the Managing the risk of psychosocial hazards at work code of practice (Code) which commenced on 1 April.  Discussions focused on the importance of effective workplace consultative arrangements and supporting employers and workers (including HSRs) manage this risk in line with this Code. The group’s next meeting is scheduled for 8 June.

The Regulatory Capability and Performance Focus Group’s third meeting on 19 April discussed matters relating to good practice inspector training. The Group’s next meeting is scheduled for 31 May.

As noted in the WHS Board’s September 2022 update, the Board agreed to establish a working party on ‘Worker Consultative Arrangements’ (including Health and Safety Representatives) in early 2023. The first meeting was held on 20 April and agreed on two focus areas, namely, Accountability for inspector obligations with worker representatives; and Operationalisation of an optimal Health and Safety Representatives framework. The next meeting is scheduled for 14 June.

The Board’s February 2023 update foreshadowed a Board ‘deep dive’ into the prosecution process from incidence of work-related fatality to a brief being provided to the WHS Prosecutor with a focus on industrial manslaughter and pure-risk based offences. The purpose of the ‘deep dive’ was to better understand the process and whether recommendations for improvements could be provided by the Board.  The WHS Board Chair will work with the Deputy Director-General, OIR, to formulate an approach to further explore this issue.

The next full meeting of the Board is scheduled for 5 July 2023. As the July meeting is the last meeting of the Board’s current term which concludes on 12 July 2023, members discussed future strategy items in preparation for the appointment of a new Board.

At the Work Health and Safety Board (Board) meeting held on 28 February 2023, the Board focussed on progress made by the Board’s Psychological Health and Safety Focus Group and the Regulatory Capability and Performance Focus Group and opportunities for ongoing engagement and collaboration with the Office of Industrial Relations (OIR) on these priorities. The Board discussed the implementation of the Managing respirable crystalline silica dust exposure in construction and manufacturing of construction elements Code of Practice 2022 that commences on 1 May 2023 and agreed that silica is a risk for all industries. Members also noted that the Federal Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke issued a statement that day advising that he and his state and territory counterparts have asked Safe Work Australia to consider what a future ban on engineered stone would look like, with that the group also making a decision on prohibiting it at a later stage. The Board will continue to take a direct interest in this significant issue in the months ahead.

At its third meeting on 22 February, the Psychological Health and Safety Focus Group had collaborative and constructive discussions with OIR and identified challenges and possible solutions for effective implementation of the Managing the risk of psychosocial hazards at work Code of Practice that commences on 1 April 2023. The group’s next meeting is scheduled for 12 April.

The Regulatory Capability and Performance Focus Group has met twice, with its next meeting to be held on 15 March 2023. At the February Board meeting members agreed to three focus areas as the most important matters to progress in the coming months. As part of the skills and capabilities focus area, the Board agreed to hold a ‘deep dive’ in April to examine and identify best-practice skills and capabilities (and processes) for WHSQ inspectors and investigators to build a case for work-related fatalities prosecutions and pure ‘risk-based’ prosecutions.

As noted in the WHS Board’s September 2022 update, the Board agreed to establish a working party on ‘Worker Consultative Arrangements’ (including Health and Safety Representatives) in early 2023. At the February meeting members confirmed the working party’s membership and agreed that its first meeting will be scheduled in the near future.

Mr Simon Nicholson, who was appointed as Queensland’s Work Health and Safety Prosecutor in October 2022, attended part of the Board meeting as a guest speaker. The Board valued the opportunity to meet with Mr Nicholson to receive an update on prosecutions launched and important decisions, as well as key trends and aspects of legislation that the WHS Prosecutor considers should be brought to the Board’s attention. The Board has invited Mr Nicholson to provide an update to the Board every six months.

The Deputy Director-General of OIR, Ms Kym Bancroft, also attended part of the meeting. Positive discussions between the Board and Ms Bancroft focused on the Board’s future consideration about developing a new Five-Year Strategic Plan for WHS in Queensland and the Office of Industrial Relations’ proposed Priority Plans and opportunities to work together to deliver greater alignment across these plans.

The next full meeting of the Board is scheduled for 27 April 2023.

Work Health and Safety Board members

On 13 September 2023 the Industrial Relations Minister the Honourable Grace Grace appointed a chairperson and members to the Work Health and Safety Board (the Board) for a term of three years.

The Board boasts members from organisations with significant reach across Queensland which will help us spread vital health and safety messages to workers all over the state.

Chairperson

Linda Lavarch

Linda Lavarch is a highly accomplished professional with a distinguished career in law, public policy development, worker advocacy, and leadership roles across various sectors.

Linda is a former member of the Queensland State Parliament and former Queensland Attorney-General equipping her with a profound understanding of legislative frameworks and governance.

As the Director of Member and Specialist Services at the Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) from 2015 to 2020, she passionately championed the rights and wellbeing of nurses and midwives. In this pivotal role, Linda managed crucial areas, including work health and safety matters and workers' compensation.

Linda also brings a wealth of experience in chairing boards, steering advisory committees, and serving as a valued board member and has a proven ability to provide effective governance, cultivate collaboration, and guide initiatives to successful fruition.

Employer Representative Members

Lindsay Carroll

As the Interim Chief Executive Officer and Legal Director at the helm of the National Retail Association, Lindsay (she/her) stands as a dynamic leader steering the course for thousands of retail employers across diverse sectors. With a proven track record in industry association leadership, Lindsay has brought innovation and strategic direction to the forefront of the retail landscape.

In her role, Lindsay has demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to the growth and success of retail enterprises. Her strategic vision and collaborative approach have empowered the National Retail Association to become a driving force, fostering a community of thousands of retail employers. Lindsay's leadership extends beyond the boardroom, actively engaging with members to understand their needs and champion their interests.

Lindsay leads an expansive in-house team of adept workplace relations advisors and lawyers, and her expertise extends across the entire spectrum of workplace relations and work health and safety, positioning her as a prominent figure in the field. Her commitment to delivering tangible support to the National Retail Association's members and clients is unwavering, consistently yielding positive outcomes for the retail industry.

Lindsay's journey into industry association leadership follows a rich professional background, including earlier experience in a preeminent global law firm and as a trusted advisor to employers in the resources industry. This diverse expertise uniquely positions her to navigate the challenges and opportunities that the retail industry presents.

Amy Sproule

Amy Sproule is a registered nurse, a teacher for nursing, and a Chartered Professional Member of the Australian Institute of Safety. With over twenty years’ experience as a safety professional, Amy has worked in the health care, education, manufacturing and event space in Queensland and New South Wales. Amy is also a highly experienced injury management professional, assisting business with work related and non-work related injuries and illnesses with the goal of providing meaningful and safe work that accommodates the employee’s needs. Amy was an early adopter of establishing workplace health promotions to assist employees being job-fit and promote health seeking behaviours by employees.

Amy believes a safe workplace is a right for all people and is excited to assist the State of Queensland and Queensland employers to provide places of work that allow the fulfilment of the benefits of work for people with assurance of physical and psychological safety.

She has a strong desire to ensure that safety can be provided that also allows practical decisions to be made by businesses to ensure they provide controls to their workplace risks. Safety mechanisms and procedures often provide sound financial sense and efficiencies to businesses when well thought out, planned, and implemented. Her aim to is to highlight the benefits of establishing these sounds practices allowing businesses to achieve their organisational goals whilst also ensuring safe workplaces for their workers and contractors.

Amy hopes that common sense and rational decisions and recommendations are made that assist businesses to discharge their obligations whilst ensuring the safety of their people. She is excited to work with employee groups to form common goals for the direction of safety regulation in Queensland that allows businesses to ensure they provide safety whilst meeting their objectives for profitable business.

When she’s not at work, she enjoys spending time with family, reading, researching culture and history, and spending time in the great outdoors, usually camping somewhere by a creek with family and friends, or walking with her dog.

James Crane

Jim works with the Australian Sugar Milling Council (ASMC), the industry peak body for sugar mills. Sugar milling companies who are members of the ASMC produce more than 80 per cent of the raw sugar produced in Australia. Jim’s role as Director, Industry and Government Affairs involves wide-ranging advocacy with both the State and Federal Government elected representatives and Departments.

Jim has worked extensively in the Queensland sugar industry since 1975 with sugar mills and industry representative organisations. Jim’s sugar industry experience prior to joining ASMC in 2006 included HR/IR, field operations, communications and productivity program management.

A key passion for Jim over the past ten years has been the organisation and oversight of the annual industry safety conference and facilitating the ASMC industry safety committee.

Craig Dearling

Craig is currently the General Manager - Workforce Services at Master Builders. Craig leads the Workforce Services team and is responsible for providing advice, support and assistance to Master Builders members on all employment and health and safety matters.

Craig has over 20 years of industry experience, holds a Bachelor of Commerce as well as formal qualifications in Industrial Relations, HR, WHS and Training, and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Currently,

Craig is a Director of Construction Income Protection Limited (CIPL) and is Chair of their Audit and Risk Committee.

Kathy Taylor

Kathy has worked in health care for much of her career, spending 20 years as a Registered Nurse and Midwife but her passion was found in the Emergency Department, where she became aware of the impacts on workers and their families as the result of workplace injuries.

After a 6-year stint in the Petrochemical industry, which provided an excellent grounding in safety management systems, Kathy moved back to the health care sector where she continues to work today combining her love for health care and passion for workplace safety.

Kathy heads up the National Safety Team for Ramsay Health Care, managing Work Health and Safety across 72 facilities as well as a growing number of Pharmacies, Psychology Clinics and Allied health services.

Worker Representative Members

Taylor Bunnag

Taylor Bunnag is an Industrial Advocate at the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU). Taylor has significant experience relating to policy, industrial relations and workplace health and safety related issues. He is passionate about creating safer working environments for workers. Prior to joining the AMWU, he worked as an Associate at a leading national law firm. Taylor holds a Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Journalism and a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice. He was admitted as a Solicitor in the Supreme Court of Queensland.

Brendan Crotty

Brendan has been the Deputy General Secretary of the Queensland Teachers’ Union (QTU) since January 2016. Prior to his election he served as the QTU Regional Organiser in Brisbane South and South Queensland from August 2001. Brendan trained as a high school teacher and taught Industrial Technology and Design, Vocational Education and Training in Schools (VETiS) and Health and Physical Education in rural, remote, and outer metropolitan schools in Queensland. He holds a Bachelor of Technology Education from Griffith University and a Graduate Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety from Central Queensland University.

In 2021 Brendan completed an Executive Certificate in Non-Profit Leadership through the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Brendan has been a strong advocate for the concept of assertive professionalism and the intersection of industrial and professional issues in the workplace. Brendan believes worker voice is important in improving safety culture and systems.

Kurt Pauls

Kurt Pauls is the Workplace Health and Safety Coordinator for the Queensland/Northern Territory branch of the CFMEU. With more than 25 years in the industry and 10 years in the union, he has experience in civil, construction and offsite sectors. Kurt is responsible for training and mentoring over 300 Health and Safety Representatives, assisting union organisers with OH&S matters, and liaising with the Office of Industrial Relations on behalf of workers.

Kurt has also had the opportunity to be part of the WHS Act Review 2022 and numerous changes to workplace health and safety codes of practice. Kurt is also on the board of the suicide prevention group MATES in Construction.

As a passionate safety advocate, one of Kurt’s key priorities as a board member of WHSQ is to improve standards for workers in blue-collar and high-risk industries to ensure every worker returns home safely to their families.

Mark Raguse

Mark has over 20 years’ experience in industrial relations and workplace health and safety in Queensland.

Kate Veach

Kate Veach is the Secretary within the Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) where she takes a lead role in growing the power, confidence and capacity of members to improve the industrial and professional interests and wellbeing of nurses and midwives and the health of our community.

Kate is a Registered Nurse and has been a QNMU member for 27 years. In 2021, she was elected to the position of QNMU Assistant Secretary. Prior to this, Kate was the QNMU Director of Organising and Professional Services.

As an Executive Member of the Queensland Council of Unions, Kate fights tirelessly for the rights of members across all sectors, believing passionately that well-supported nurses and midwives are central to healthier communities.

She particularly enjoys working with frontline nurses and midwives to develop, implement and evaluate resource management practices, processes and tools to improve the delivery of safe, high-quality nursing and midwifery.

Expert Members

Ross Di Corleto

Dr Ross Di Corleto has been involved in occupational health & safety and occupational hygiene for 40 years. He has worked in the power industry, mining, refining and associated processes in Australia and internationally across Canada, Europe, Asia, the US and the African continent.

He is a Certified Occupational Hygienist, a Fellow & Past President of the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Health and Safety.

He has been actively involved with several academic institutions and is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Queensland and Edith Cowan University.

Ross is passionate about the protection of worker safety and health, during their working life and into their retirement. His areas of particular interest include the thermal environment and worker health risk.

Rebecca Loudoun

Rebecca Loudoun is an Associate Professor of Work Health and Safety in Griffith University’s Department of Employment and Human Resources at Griffith University and the Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing. The publication of 19 journal articles, eight conference papers, two edited books, six industry reports and 12 Book chapters in the last 10 years alone indicates Rebecca’s ongoing contribution to the field where she has over 20 years’ experience as a research consultant, lecturer and researcher in the field. Broadly, these publications explore how organisational policies and practices intersect with employees’ work experiences and non-work lives and how institutions internal and external to the workplace influence health, safety and well-being outcomes.

Rebecca is regularly invited to act as a speaker and reviewer for national and international industry and academic conferences and journals and she was a member of the editorial board for the most highly regarded work health and safety journal in Australia, ‘Journal of Health, Safety and Environment’ from 2013-2022.

In addition to researching in work health and safety, Rebecca has more than two decades’ experience teaching in the field including being Director of the Griffith University Masters of Personal Injury Management.

Bruce Watson

Commencing as WorkCover Queensland CEO on 1 January 2017, Bruce was previously CEO of Mine Wealth and Wellbeing Super Fund for 11 years and was awarded “Executive of the Year” in 2010 by the Fund Executive Association for his contributions to business and industry.

Bruce is a highly experienced and proven CEO, recognised by industry for delivering sustainable financial performance and customer service excellence. Over the last 7 years Bruce has successfully steered WorkCover Queensland through challenging times.

Bruce is totally committed to improving workplace safety and ensure where incidents do happen all affected parties are supported in the journey.

We're supported by the following six industry sector standing committees.

Industry sector standing committees

We include:

  • Construction Industry Sector Standing Committee
  • Health and Community Services Industry Sector Standing Committee
  • Manufacturing Industry Sector Standing Committee
  • Retail and Wholesale Industry Sector Standing Committee (incorporating hospitality, recreation and other services)
  • Rural Industry Sector Standing Committee
  • Transport and Storage Industry Sector Standing Committee.

Our primary function is to give industry-specific advice and make recommendations to the Work Health and Safety Board about work health and safety in our respective industry sectors. Our key focus is supporting the implementation of the Board’s five-year strategic plan (PDF, 1.24 MB) and developing responses to work health and safety issues faced by our industry sectors.

We use our industry networks to consult on industry-specific work health and safety issues and to promote and distribute work health and safety information.

Our Chairperson and members are skilled and experienced in the management of work health and safety. Appointed by the Minister, they equally represent workers and employers.

Consultative Committee for Work-related Fatalities and Serious Incidents

(Left to Right – Jacci Quinlivan, Deb Kennedy, Chair Dan Kennedy, Anna James, Don Sager, Julie Sager)

(Left to Right – Jacci Quinlivan, Deb Kennedy, Chair Dan Kennedy, Anna James, Don Sager, Julie Sager). *Absent: Deputy Chair Sean O’Connor.

Our purpose is to provide:

  • advice and recommendations to the Minister about the information and support needs of people impacted by work-related deaths, serious incidents and illness
  • a forum where Queenslanders impacted by work-related deaths, serious incidents and illness can connect and share information.

The Consultative Committee for Work-related Fatalities and Serious Incidents (affected persons committee) is established under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and its members are appointed by the Minister for Industrial Relations. All members have either suffered the loss of a loved one or have been seriously injured through a work-related incident. The committee meets quarterly at Brisbane in February, May, August, and November.

If you are an affected person from a work-related fatality or serious illness or injury, we want to hear from you. Please direct message a request to join our closed support group via our Support for families of workplace fatalities, illness and injuries Facebook page.

You can also contact us by emailing OHSConsultativeCommittee@oir.qld.gov.au or calling us on 0417 910 130.

Read about our current Consultative Committee for Work-related Fatalities and Serious Incidents committee members.

View our three year Consultative Committee for Work-related Fatalities and Serious Incidents strategic plan 2022–25 (PDF, 0.54 MB) for a safer future for Queensland workers, where no affected person feels alone. It details key focus areas and initiatives for support, justice, prevention, and reform.