Roundtable considers impact of new WHS laws
Key business groups and unions met with the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, the Honourable Jarrod Bleijie, in Brisbane on 29 August business to discuss issues surrounding the implementation and operation of the model work health and safety (WHS) laws in Queensland.
In particular the Queensland Government sought views on whether there were any aspects of the legislation that are unworkable or have had unintended consequences, including any unanticipated or inequitable compliance or cost burdens.
Attendees included the Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Civil Contractors Federation, GrowCom, Queensland Farmers Federation, Queensland Law Society, Queensland Trucking Association, Australian Sugar Milling Council, Timber Queensland, Canegrowers Queensland, Queensland Major Contractors’ Association, National Retailers Association, Australian Industry Group, Agforce, Australian Workers’ Union, Master Builders Queensland, Housing Industry Association, Local Government Association of Queensland and the Queensland Council of Unions.
A summary of the key outcomes from the roundtable review is as follows:
- Development of guidance on what is meant by “reasonably practicable” and how control is relevant to the assessment of whether something was reasonably practicable.
- Consideration to the removal of ‘contractors and subcontractors’ from the definition of “workers” (this is being considered in conjunction with a review of the use of the term “worker” in other legislation, including under the workers’ compensation scheme).
- Consider changes to right of entry powers including whether these powers should be removed from the WHS Act.
- Recommending that a number of the second stage model codes of practice (mainly construction-related) not be adopted in Queensland.
- A special working group will be established to look into the adoption of the model codes of practice regarding bullying/harassment and fatigue and report back to the Attorney-General later this year.
- A special working group will be established to look into the asbestos regulations and report back to the Attorney-General.
- Clarification of the costs and impacts of audiometric testing to be established. Industry recommended that the regulation should not commence until arrangements are clarified.
- In relation to the costs and benefits of the WHS laws industry were invited to provide submissions to the Department of Justice and Attorney-General with respect to the cost impacts of the national model laws. It was noted that the three separate cost benefit analyses that have been conducted (National, Victoria and South Australia) would also be of assistance.
- Other areas of concern related to:
- the cessation of certificates to operate earthmoving equipment
- removal of the five tonne threshold for gantry crane operation
- the application of the confined spaces regulation in the rural industry.
The Attorney-General will take industry's views to Cabinet for consideration later this year. A number of the issues raised are subject to compliance from 1 January 2013. It is proposed to delay the commencement of these regulations until 1 January 2014 to provide certainty for industry while the work from the industry roundtable review is completed.
For more information on work health and safety laws, visit www.worksafe.qld.gov.au or call the WHS Infoline on 1300 369 915.