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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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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.

Regulation

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:

  1. There are eight new codes of practice adopted by Queensland through the national harmonisation process.
  2. Four codes of practice under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (PDF, 1.42 MB) will be repealed from 30 November 2013.
  3. The Tunnelling Code of Practice 2007 is replaced by the Tunnelling guide (Safe Work Australia).

New codes of practice commencing 1 December 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:

View the codes of practice.