Information regarding the WHS Laws in Australia

WHS Amendment Act 2014

The WHS and Other Legislation Amendment Act was passed in Queensland Parliament in April 2014 and went into effect on 16 May 2014. The amendments were done on WHS Act 2011 as follows:

  • Requires WHS entry permit holders to give a 24 hour minimum, 14 days maximum notice prior to entering a workplace. This will be aligned with other entry notification periods stipulated in the WHS Act and the Fair Work Act of 2009.
  • The penalty for non-compliance with WHS entry permit conditions has been increased. Additionally, there is a new penalty provision for failing to comply with WHS entry permit notification requirements.
  • Any person assisting a health and safety representative is required to provide a notice of 24 hours minimum and 14 days maximum before gaining access to the workplace.
  • Health and safety representative no longer have power to direct workers to cease unsafe work. Workers, however, still retain the right to cease any unsafe work, especially if it is high risk construction work where there is little construction site safety.
  • People conducting business are no longer required to provide the WHS regulator with a list of all their health and safety representatives. An up-to-date list of health and safety representatives must, however, be displayed at the workplace.
  • Codes of practice adopted in Queensland can now be approved, revoked, or varied without requiring national consultation.

Safety for Recreational Water Activities

Recreational water activities such as diving and snorkeling are significant activities in Queensland and are regulated under the Safety in Recreational Water Activities Act of 2011, the Safety in Recreational Water Activities Regulation of 2011, and the Recreational Diving, Recreational Technical Diving and Snorkeling Code of Practice of 2011.

SRWA Act requires a PCBU that provides recreational water activities to ensure that the health and safety of people taking part in these activities are not compromised. SRWA Act is implemented in tandem with WHS Act and places a duty on a PCBU to ensure that the health and safety of workers in the workplace is adhered to. The Act adopts WHS Act key provisions for safety and health duties, compliance, legal proceedings and enforcement.

A PCBU is required by SRWA Act to minimize or eliminate any risks to the safety and health of workers as far as is reasonably practicable. The PCBU is required by the Act to do the following:

  • Conduct a careful assessment of all the possible risks that could arise in the workplace and design measures to mitigate them (if your work is in construction consider downloading a swms template).
  • Provide and maintain safe structures and ensure the safe use, storage, and handling of substances that are potentially harmful.
  • Provide any information, instruction, training and supervision of people when they are undertaking recreational water activities.
  • Notify the regulator in the event that any serious injury or illness occurs in their premises.

Exemptions to the Regulation

The WHS regulator can grant exemptions for the provisions contained in the Act. There are 3 types of exemptions that the WHS regulator can grant including:

There are 3 types of exemptions that the WHS regulator can grant including:

  • General exemptions
  • Major hazard facility exemptions
  • Exemptions of licenses for high-risk work

Exemptions may be granted to a person or class of persons. Some exemptions can eventually become permanent fixtures in the WHS regulation.

It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with Work health and Safety Laws and teach them to your workers too. You don’t have to memorize the entire WHS Act since depending on the nature of your business, maybe only a handful apply directly to you.

If you’re involved in High Risk Construction Work, then consider purchasing a swms template from BlueSafe Solutions who specialise in providing construction site safety tools and risk management plans.To visit their website go to www.bluesafesolutions.com.au