Western Australia has announced a two-level industrial manslaughter offence, revealed plans to beef up its safety inspectorate and released a draft WHS framework. Meanwhile, Victoria has introduced a new reckless conduct offence with $6.4 million fines for employers.
A new impact statement on the recent review of the national model WHS laws has warned that some recommendations could increase compliance costs with minimal safety benefits, including the recommendation to include the hierarchy of controls in the Act.
Organisations must reassess how they interact with WHS regulators and ensure officers are complying with their due diligence obligations, with the push for industrial manslaughter laws "sweeping the nation", according to a senior health, safety and security lawyer.
The South Australian Greens are introducing a WHS Amendment Bill to create the offence of industrial manslaughter with an "emergency" defence, while Federal Labor has hinted at plans to better harmonise WHS laws, in addition to introducing the offence nationally.
A judge has upheld a $9,000 fine in the first (and "somewhat curious") prosecution involving the WHS duty to "consult workers". He also disagreed with a landmark finding that Queensland's WHS fines should be consistent with those in the other harmonised jurisdictions.
WHS amendments prompted by the Dreamworld disaster are commencing in Queensland in eight weeks, while the national model WHS laws could be amended to prevent devices covered by a prohibition notice in one jurisdiction being transferred to and used in another.
In this follow-up story on the major review of the model WHS laws, OHS Alert examines more recommendations and two areas that will, according to leading health and safety lawyer Michael Tooma, have a significant impact on the regime and duty holders.
Marie Boland's review of the national model WHS laws has recommended introducing the offence of industrial manslaughter, making it easier for union officials to enter worksites to assist health and safety representatives, and banning insurance against WHS penalties.
The company director jailed for recklessly endangering a roofer, who fell to his death, over-relied on the diligence of workers and skimped on safety controls, the Queensland Office of Industrial Relations has revealed.