Overview of the legislation
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Amendments to the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
Amendments have been made to the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011. The Work Health and Safety and Another Regulation Amendment Regulation (No. 1) 2013 (the amendment Regulation) came into effect on 15 November 2013 and makes the following amendments:
- Further extends certain transitional arrangements and the commencement date of a number of uncommenced provisions in the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 to 1 January 2015. These extensions have been made to provide certainty to business while a number of issues raised by industry through the review of the WHS laws are considered.
- Extension of transitional arrangements for high risk work licensing where the national competency units and assessment instruments are not yet available until 1 January 2015 to allow time for the training packages to become available and adopted by registered training organisations.
- New provisions to give permanent effect to class exemptions granted for certified bridge and gantry crane operators and intermediate boiler operators.
- Clarify requirements for specific control measures to be used where there is a risk of a falling:
- at least three metres in housing construction work; or
- at least two metres in other construction work.
- Make minor and technical amendments to ensure consistency with the national model WHS Regulations. See further information below.
- From 1 December 2013, repeal specific provisions relating to spray painting and excavation work that were carried over from the repealed Workplace Health and Safety Regulation 2008 as an interim measure until new national model codes of practice were finalised. New codes of practice for Excavation Work and Spraypainting and Powder Coating come into effect on 1 December 2013.
Minor technical amendments
The amendment Regulation makes a number of technical amendments approved by Safe Work Australia as amendments to the model WHS Regulation. These are not considered significant enough to require consideration by the Select Council of Workplace Relations. Key amendments include:
- allowing a person certified but not yet licensed to carry our high risk work to perform such work for up to 60 days after they have been certified or if they apply for a licence within 60 days until their licence application has been granted or rejected
- allowing a person to operate plant without a high risk work licence in order to load or unload it from a vehicle for the specific purpose of moving the plant within the workplace
- stipulating that a plant registration may be cancelled and the relevant process for doing so
- clarifying that the specified VET course for Class A asbestos removal work is the VET course Remove friable asbestos
- removing the requirement for design registration of prefabricated formwork
- specific licence 'encompassment' provisions for related classes of high risk work licences.
These changes ensure Queensland's WHS Regulation is consistent with the harmonised model WHS Regulation.
In addition there are number of technical amendments which correct minor discrepancies identified in a comparison of Queensland WHS Regulation and the national model WHS Regulation or update some provisions. Examples of this are:
- the inclusion of section 7(3) from the model WHS Regulation to clarify that a volunteer association does not conduct a business or undertaking for the purpose of the Act if it is a group of volunteers working together for one or more community purposes where none of the volunteers, whether alone or jointly with other volunteers, employs any person to carry out work for the volunteer associatio
- amending the definition of strata title bodies corporate so that it covers not just those defined as a body corporate under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (the BCCM Act) but a broader cross-section that includes bodies corporate covered by any of the Specified Acts listed under section 326 of the BCCM Act. For example, this includes bodies corporate specified in schedule 3, section 1 of the Integrated Resort Development Act 1987.
To see the amendments to the WHS Regulation and explanatory notes.
Queensland reviews WHS laws
The Queensland Government has been reviewing the work health and safety (WHS) laws in Queensland to give industry an opportunity to provide feedback on the national model WHS laws which came into effect on 1 January 2012.
Industry representatives generally supported the WHS laws but considered some aspects had a significant impact on the compliance burden for business. Some areas identified for change include audiometric testing for workers and streamlining some asbestos-related requirements. These changes will be considered at a national level through the Select Council of Workplace Relations and Safe Work Australia as they involve material changes to national model WHS Regulations.
Those areas identified for possible change that have not commenced or have transitional arrangements have been further delayed or extended until 1 January 2015. This will ensure that industry is not placed in a situation where they are expected to comply with requirements while the outcomes of the review are decided.
Work Health and Safety Act 2011
The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (PDF, 1.42 MB) (WHS Act) provides a framework to protect the health, safety and welfare of all workers at work. It also protects the health and safety of all other people who might be affected by the work.
All workers are protected by the WHS Act. This includes employees, contractors, subcontractors, outworkers, apprentices and trainees, work experience students, volunteers and employers who perform work. The WHS Act also provides protection for the general public so that their health and safety is not placed at risk by work activities.
The WHS Act places the primary health and safety duty on a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), who must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers at the workplace. Duties are also placed on officers of a PCBU, workers and other persons at a workplace.
All duties under the WHS Act are qualified by the term 'reasonably practicable'.
The WHS Act also sets out the requirements for the following:
- incident notification
- consultation with workers
- issue resolution
- inspector powers and functions
- offences and penalties.
More information about the WHS Act is provided in the Guide to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (PDF, 399 kB).
Safety for recreational water activities
Recreational diving and snorkelling is a significant industry in Queensland. These activities are regulated under the Safety in Recreational Water Activities Act 2011 (PDF, 536 kB) (the SRWA Act) and the Safety in Recreational Water Activities Regulation 2011 (PDF, 360 kB) (the SRWA Regulation). Amendments have been made to the SRWA Regulation and the Recreational Diving, Recreational Technical Diving and Snorkelling Code of Practice. This legislation ensures that the strict safety standards for recreational diving and snorkelling are maintained.
Under the SRWA Act a person who conducts a business or undertaking (PCBU) which provides recreational water activities is required to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of any person taking part in those activities.
The SRWA Act operates in tandem with the WHS Act which places a duty on a PCBU to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers at the workplace. It adopts the key provisions of the WHS Act for health and safety duties, penalties, compliance, enforcement and legal proceedings.
The SRWA Act sets out the legal duties that apply in Queensland to protect the public from harm when they take part in recreational water activities provided by a PCBU. When providing these activities, the PCBU is responsible for organising access to the place where the activities take place, supervising all aspects of the activity, supplying any equipment that is required and providing advice, training and demonstrations.
A PCBU has a duty under the SRWA Act to either eliminate or minimise the risks to health and safety as far as is reasonably practicable. They must:
- assess all reasonably foreseeable hazards likely to occur while conducting the activity and the harm that could result, and decide how to control the risks from these hazards
- provide and maintain safe plant and structures and ensure the safe use, handling and storage of plant, structures and substances
- provide information, training, instruction and supervision to protect people undertaking recreational water activities and must also monitor the people for whom they provide the activity and conditions where the activity is provided to prevent illness or injury
- notify the regulator in the event of a serious injury or illness or when a dangerous incident has occurred.
The PCBU's workers must also take reasonable care to protect any people taking part in recreational water activities.
People taking part in recreational water activities (including onlookers) also have duties under the SRWA Act. They must take reasonable care for their own health and safety, comply with any reasonable instruction given by the PCBU and not endanger others.
If the regulation describes how to prevent or minimise a risk at your workplace you must do what the regulation says.
If there is no regulation or code of practice about a risk at your workplace you must choose an appropriate way to manage exposure to the risk. A PCBU must, where there is no regulation or code of practice about a risk, eliminate or minimise risks so far as is reasonably practicable.
Codes of practice
A code of practice provides practical guidance for people who have work health and safety duties about how to achieve the standards required under the Act, and about effective ways to identify and manage risks.
A code of practice applies to anyone who has a duty of care in the circumstances described in the code. In most cases, following an approved code of practice would achieve compliance with the health and safety duties in the Act, in relation to the subject matter of the code. Like regulations, codes of practice deal with particular issues and do not cover all hazards or risks which may arise. The health and safety duties require duty holders to consider all risks associated with work, not only those for which regulations and codes of practice exist.
Changes to codes of practice commencing 1 December 2013
As part of the national harmonisation of work health and safety laws, the Honourable Jarrod Bleijie MP, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice has approved eight new national codes of practice to take effect from 1 December 2013.
Changes to Queensland's codes of practice:
- There are eight new codes of practice adopted by Queensland through the national harmonisation process.
- Four codes of practice under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (PDF, 1.42 MB) will be repealed from 30 November 2013.
- The Tunnelling Code of Practice 2007 is replaced by the Tunnelling guide (Safe Work Australia).
New codes of practice commencing 1 December 2013:
- Abrasive Blasting Code of Practice 2013
- Demolition Work Code of Practice 2013
- Excavation Work Code of Practice 2013
- Managing Risks of Hazardous Chemicals in the Workplace Code of Practice 2013
- Managing Risks of Plant in the Workplace Code of Practice 2013
- Safe Design of Structures Code of Practice 2013
- Spray Painting and Powder Coating Code of Practice 2013
- Welding Processes Code of Practice 2013
Effective 1 December 2013 the Work Health and Safety and Another Regulation Amendment Regulation (No.1) 2013 repeals provisions in the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 relating to spray painting and excavation work that were carried over from the repealed WHS Regulation 2008 until the national model codes were adopted.
Codes of practice repealed from 30 November 2013:
- Abrasive Blasting Code of Practice 2004
- Hazardous Chemicals Code of Practice 2003
- Plant Code of Practice 2005
- Tunnelling Code of Practice 2007
View the codes of practice.