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Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2017

On 12 October 2017, the Queensland Parliament passed the Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2017 (the amendment Act).

The amendment Act amends the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act), Electrical Safety Act 2002 (ES Act) and the Safety in Recreational Water Activities Act 2011 (SRWA Act) to implement key recommendations of the Best Practice Review of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. A summary of the amendments is outlined below.

Provisions to commence on assent of the amendment Act:

·         introduction of a new offence of industrial manslaughter in the WHS Act with mirror amendments in the ES Act and SRWA Act

·         requirement for a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to provide the regulator with a list of Health and Safety Representatives and deputy Health and Safety Representatives for each work group

·         prohibiting enforceable undertakings being accepted for contraventions, or alleged contraventions, of the WHS Act that involve a fatality, with mirror amendments to the ES Act and the SRWA Act, and

·         providing that codes of practice will expire five years after they are approved to allow for more timely review of codes.

Provisions to commence on 1 July 2018:

·         restoring the status of codes of practice as existed under the repealed Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 to require the safety measures in a code to be followed unless equal to or better than measures can be demonstrated

·         mandating training for Health and Safety Representatives within six months of being elected to the role, with refresher training to be undertaken at three-yearly intervals

·         introducing the ability for a PCBU to appoint a Work Health and Safety Officer (WHSO)

·         requiring a PCBU to display a current list of WHSOs for the workplace

·         enabling the appointment of a WHSO or the election of a HSR to be permissible as evidence that a PCBU has taken action to mitigate health and safety risks, and

·         clarifying inspector investigation powers under section 171 of the WHS Act to ensure these powers are not inappropriately limited by a legal technicality.

Provisions to commence on proclamation:

·         expansion of the jurisdiction of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) to hear and determine disputes relating to work health and safety issues, cease work matters, requests for assistance by Health and Safety Representatives, and the provision of information to Health and Safety Representatives. Disputes will not be able to be lodged with the QIRC until 24 hours after an inspector has been requested to assist with resolving a dispute and the dispute remains unresolved.

·         establishing an independent statutory office for work health and safety prosecutions. The statutory office will be headed by a WHS Prosecutor appointed by the Governor-in-Council for a five year renewable term, and

·         enabling inspectors to make a determination about whether the WHS entry permit holder has a valid right of entry or has complied with notice requirements under sections 119 or 122 of the WHS Act.

A copy of the Act as passed and explanatory notes will be available on the Queensland Legislation website atwww.legislation.qld.gov.au/browse/aspassed.

Last updated
13 October 2017

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