The new and independent WorkSafe ACT has begun operations today, with the launch of the new Office of the Work Health and Safety Commissioner and the release of a Statement of Expectations from the Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety.
The ACT Government committed to establishing WorkSafe ACT as a new and independent regulator following on from the 2018 independent review and today’s launch delivers on this commitment to Canberrans.
Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety, Suzanne Orr said she is looking forward to the new WorkSafe ACT operating as an independent regulator and improving safety across the ACT.
“Safety is everyone’s responsibility and WorkSafe ACT has an integral role in driving an outstanding work safety culture in the ACT through its regulatory compliance and enforcement activities, as well as its advice to government, workers and employers,” Minister Orr said.
“By establishing WorkSafe ACT as a new and independent organisation, the Government is delivering on our commitment to improve work health and safety across the ACT and protect working people from workplace related injuries.”
ACT Work Health and Safety Commissioner, Jacqueline Agius said it was important to establish the newly independent body.
“We are striving to become a respected regulatory body among stakeholders and implementing the recommendations of the 2018 independent review is an important part of gaining stakeholders’ respect,” Ms Agius said.
“The new WorkSafe ACT will be accountable and its compliance work will be data driven and evidence informed.
“We will also look to work closely with industry to achieve improved safety outcomes. Two recent fatalities in the residential construction industry leave us in no doubt that this industry’s safety culture must change. Everyone is affected by workplace fatalities – families, friends and co-workers – and every tragic fatality is one too many.
“Securing sustainable compliance with work health and safety laws is vitally important to protecting the health and safety of workers now, and into the future. This requires a contemporary regulator that strives for excellence and is innovative, flexible, respected and trusted. The new WorkSafe will be such a regulator.”
In addition to launching the new look WorkSafe ACT, Minister Orr has released her Statement of Expectations which will guide the operation of WorkSafe ACT for the next 12 months. The statement was developed in consultation with the ACT Work
Health and Safety Council and includes a focus on the mental health of workers, impacts of climate change, risks associated with occupational violence and the need for improved safety in the construction sector.
The Statement of Expectations includes the following key priorities:
- addressing present and emerging work health and safety risks arising from psychosocial hazards, occupational violence, climate change impacts such as extreme heat and smoke, worker exploitation, and silica dust;
- improving the construction industry’s safety culture and performance;
- continually improving the operations of WorkSafe ACT, including through stronger compliance and enforcement activity and the use of digital and online services to improve public accessibility and evidence-based decision making;
- implementing the outstanding recommendations from the 2018 independent review of WorkSafe ACT; and
- engaging with the ACT Work Health and Safety Council to ensure the operations of WorkSafe ACT are responsive to issues identified by employee and employer representatives in the ACT, including on the matter of reducing workplace related injuries and fatalities in the Territory.
Commissioner Jacqueline Agius will have 60 days to deliver a response to the Statement of Expectations which will outline WorkSafe ACT’s new operational plan.
The Statement of Expectations will be made available at: legislation.act.gov.au