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Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 amendment

The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (WHS Regulation) was amended on 9 December 2016 to:

  • ensure a smooth transition to the globally harmonised system of classification and labelling of chemicals (GHS)
  • provide certainty when disclosure of confidential information is considered necessary for the administration or enforcement of another Act
  • implement 18 new infringement notice offences for existing work health and safety offences in key risk areas such as asbestos, hazardous chemicals and construction work
  • retain the existing plant item renewal arrangements until 1 January 2019
  • make minor amendments that are machinery in nature to ensure consistency and to correct drafting errors.

The Electrical Safety Regulation 2013 (ES Regulation) and the Safety in Recreational Water Activities Regulation 2011 were also amended to provide certainty when disclosure of confidential information is considered necessary for the administration or enforcement of another Act.

GHS implementation

From 1 January 2017, Queensland and the majority of other jurisdictions will require manufacturers, importers and suppliers of hazardous workplace chemicals to classify and label their chemicals in accordance with the GHS. A five year period was provided to allow manufacturers and importers to transition to the new labelling system GHS.

The previous labelling requirements are outlined in the National Code of Practice for the Labelling of Workplace Substances [NOHSC: 2012 (1994)] (NOHSC Code).

The amendment regulation clarifies that a person who is an end user of a hazardous chemical is not required to relabel existing chemicals in their workplace with GHS compliant labels if they were supplied to the workplace before 1 January 2017. This is because in order to correctly label a hazardous chemical the end user must have a high level of understanding about the classification and labelling requirements of hazardous chemicals which may be beyond their level of knowledge. Additionally, requiring the end user to relabel an existing chemical introduces the risk that the correct NOHSC labelling for the chemical will be replaced with an incomplete or incorrect GHS label.

Further amendments also exempt WHS labelling requirements from applying to veterinary chemicals listed in Schedule 4 and 8 of the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons when they are in a form intended for direct administration to animals for therapeutic purposes.

Schedule 4 medicines are prescription only medicines and animal remedies and Schedule 8 medicines are controlled drugs and poisons. Schedule 4 and 8 veterinary medicines are akin to therapeutic goods which are exempt from WHS labelling requirements and therefore should be dealt with consistently under the WHS Regulation. In addition, veterinarians handling them have extensive training and qualifications or animal owners are administering these medicines under the direction of veterinarians.

In addition, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland is also currently seeking approval from the WHS Regulator to grant an exemption under the WHS Regulation 2011 for supplier labelling of hazardous chemicals under section 338 where the hazardous chemical was manufactured or imported before 1 January 2017.

It has become apparent that on 1 January 2017 there will be a significant amount of chemicals in the supply chain that have not been labelled in accordance with the GHS. This is because manufacturers or importers in Queensland are not required to ensure hazardous chemicals are GHS compliant until 1 January 2017.

Industry has raised concerns that suppliers are dependent on the manufacturers or importers for the supply of stock. Re-labelling of chemicals in the supply chain will increase the risks to the health and safety of workers. In addition, suppliers would generally not have the technical expertise or capacity to label the stock correctly and may inadvertently label it incorrectly. Further information on the exemption will be provided in due course.

Information sharing arrangements

Inspectors are given broad powers to investigate non-compliance, to issue statutory notices and to take other prescribed actions under the Electrical Safety Act 2002 (ES Act), the Safety in Recreational Water Activities Act 2011 (SRWA Act) and the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act).

In order to balance these broad powers, a duty of confidentiality exists to ensure inspectors and other officers are accountable and credible when they perform functions and exercise powers.

Under section 193 of the ES Act, section 41 of the SRWA Act and section 271 of the WHS Act, confidentiality provisions prohibit disclosing information or the contents of a document to another person; giving another person access to a document, or using the information or document for any purpose, unless an exception applies. One exception is where the release of information is necessary for the administration or enforcement of another Act prescribed under the regulation.

The amendment regulation prescribes a list of Acts, enabling sharing of information to another Queensland Government enforcement agency where it is necessary for the administration or enforcement of that legislation. For example, inspectors may need to share information with Queensland Building and Construction Commission about the actions of a licensed builder which may have contributed to a serious incident.

Infringement notice offences

A review of existing offences under the WHS Regulation identified a further 18 offences which are eligible to be become infringement notice offences, commonly known as 'on the spot fines' under the State Penalties Enforcement Regulation 2014.

The new infringement offences relate to high risk areas such as asbestos, hazardous chemicals and construction work and provide a cost-effective method of enforcement which can be immediately applied to the alleged offender.

A list of the new infringement notice offences is provided in the table below.

Workplace Health and Safety Regulation 2011
Infringement notice offence
Infringement notice fine (penalty units)
s42(1) Duty to provide first aidIndividual - $720
Corporation - $3600
s299(1) Safe Work Method Statement requiredIndividual - $720
Corporation - $3600
s300(1) must comply with Safe Work Method StatementIndividual - $720
Corporation - $3600
s300(2) must ensure that work is stopped immediately if not carried out in accordance with the Safe Work Method StatementIndividual - $720
Corporation - $3600
s306(1) trench excavation to be secured from unauthorised accessIndividual - $720
Corporation - $3600
s306L(5) ladder has a device fitted for stability when working on a poleIndividual - $720
Corporation - $3600
s306Q(2) measures to be used when dismantling scaffoldingIndividual - $720
Corporation - $3600
s317(1) worker must have carried out general construction induction trainingIndividual - $432
Corporation - $2160
s330(1) manufacturer or importer must prepare a safety data sheet for the hazardous chemicalIndividual - $720
Corporation - $3600
s339(1) supplier of a hazardous chemical to a workplace must ensure the current safety data sheet is provided with the hazardous chemicalIndividual - $720
Corporation - $3600
s339 (3) supplier of a hazardous chemical to a workplace must ensure the current safety data sheet is provided if the person asks for the safety data sheet.Individual - $720
Corporation - $3600
s346(1) register of hazardous chemicals at the workplace is prepared and maintainedIndividual - $720
Corporation - $3600
s346(3) register of hazardous chemicals is readily accessibleIndividual - $432
Corporation - $2160
s419(1) a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must not carry out or allow a worker to carry out work involving asbestosIndividual - $720
Corporation - $3600
s446(1) a PCBU must not use or direct or allow a worker to use high-pressure water spray or compressed air on asbestosIndividual - $432
Corporation - $2160
s446(3) a PCBU must not use or direct or allow a worker to use power tools, brooms or any other implement that causes the release of airborne asbestos into the atmosphere unless controlled (defined)Individual - $432
Corporation - $2160
s466(1) a licensed asbestos removalist must give written notice to the regulator at least 5 days before the removalist commences licensed asbestos workIndividual - $432
Corporation - $2160
s466(3) if asbestos is to be removed immediately a licensed asbestos removalist must give notice to the regulator immediately by phone and in writing within 24 hoursIndividual - $432
Corporation - $2160
Last updated
06 February 2017

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