Australia’s largest network of businesses, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomes the release by Safe Work Australia of the final report by Marie Boland of the first national review of the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws.
“As a member of Safe Work Australia, the Australian Chamber has represented the views of employers throughout the review process,” Australian Chamber CEO, James Pearson, said today.
“Ms Boland’s report makes 34 recommendations about the future operation of Australia’s work health and safety laws. We will be examining them closely.
“Most of Australia’s workplaces are small businesses and more Australians work in small businesses than in the public sector and larger business combined. So we welcome the recommendations aimed at improving the ability of small business to understand, interact with and implement WHS legislation.
“Ms Boland’s report recognises that a small or medium sized business is not just a scaled down version of a big business. The recommendations consider separate processes for different sized businesses including new arrangements for appointing health and safety representatives (HSRs) and work groups in small businesses.
“The recommendation for more practical and realistic guidance materials, an initiative that the Australian Chamber has championed, will help improve workplace safety.
“However, there could be unintended and significant consequences from some other recommendations, including:
- a broad review of the model WHS Regulations and Codes;
- higher penalties;
- consideration of an industrial manslaughter offence; and
- a prescriptive approach to psychological health
“This report is an important first step. The impact of the recommendations, including their interaction with workplace laws, needs to be analysed and understood. Timely consultation with stakeholders and experts will be a vital part of that process.
“Workplace safety is a shared responsibility. We will continue to work with our members, unions, and regulators to improve the safety of Australian workplaces.”
The Australian Chamber speaks for over 300,000 businesses employing millions of Australians in every sector of our economy and in every part of our country.