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Workplace Health and Safety - What's New?

24 April 2012

These new federal laws have been introduced to provide consistency, certainty and clarity across Australia making it easier for you to understand and apply your workplace health and safety requirements.

There are some changes in the language and definitions being used in the new legislation and these are:

PCBU – This is a “person conducting a business or undertaking.”  A person may be an organisation or individual.  This will include a body corporate (company), unincorporated body or association and a partnership. 

Workers – This includes employees, contractors, subcontractors, outworkers, employees of labour hire companies and volunteers.

Officers – This refers to those individuals who make or participate in making decisions that affect the business.  Officers need to understand what they are required to do to demonstrate due diligence.

So what are the key changes? There are 5 key changes to be aware of, but you should also ensure you read and understand the relevant sections of the Act, Regulation and Codes as they apply to your business.

1.Duty of Care (Section 19)

The Act requires that a PCBU so far as reasonably practicable ensures the health and safety of its own workers as well as those engaged where PCBU influences or directs the activities while at work.  

2.Obligation to consult with other duty holders (Section 46)

Section 16 of the Act clarifies that more than one person can have the same duty of care. Each person with the duty must, so far as is reasonably practicable, consult, co-operate and co-ordinate activities with all other persons. 

3.Obligation to Consult with Workers (Section 47)

The PCBU must, so far as is reasonably practicable, consult with workers who are, or are likely to be, directly affected by a matter relating to work health or safety.

Under this section, the PCBU must ensure that relevant information about WHS matters is shared with workers and that workers are given the opportunity to express their views, raise issues and contribute to the decision making process relating to the matters raised.  

4.Duty of Officers (Section 27) 

A PCBU has a duty or obligation under this Act to ensure its officers exercise due diligence to ensure compliance with the duties and obligations outlined in the Act.

The Act outlines 6 steps that offices can take to ensure due diligence is exercised.

5.WHS Regulations and Codes of Practice

Sections 256 and 257 of the Act enable the creation of Regulations and Codes of Practice.

The WHS Regulation is now available to all PCBU’s and expands on the requirements of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 by providing details on how sections of the Act are to be implemented.

Codes of Practice are practical guides to achieving the standards of health, safety and welfare required under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act and the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations. 



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