New laws are being heralded in with the new year, as the new Work Health & Safety Legislation came into force from 1st January 2012. These new laws might change the way workplace safety is managed, but the basics of keeping it safe will stay the same.
The main changes for NSW under the new Work Health and Safety law will include –
- A new term “work health and safety” (WHS) to replace the term “occupational health and safety”
- A new term “Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking” (PCBU) which replaces “Employer”. The PCBU has the primary duty of care for the health and safety of workers, which essentially remains the same as current law, but with a much broader scope of application as the new definition of “worker” widens.
- The new wider term for employee will be “Worker” which includes any person who carries out work for a PCBU, from volunteers, work experience students, to contractors, casuals and part timers
- A new positive duty of care for Officers of a PCBU. Officers of a PCBU are those who make decisions that affect a business
- The duty of care will be to ensure the health and safety of workers by eliminating the risk, and minimising those risks as is “reasonably practicable”, which essentially means doing what can reasonably be done in the circumstances.
- Workers will have a new duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that of others
- Introduction of Healthy & Safety Representatives (HSRs) who will have the right to issue provisional improvement notices & order cessation of work in certain circumstances.
- Penalties for non-compliance will increase. A tiered regime of penalties is introduced, with a maximum penalty, for the most serious breaches, of $3m for a corporation and $600,000 and/or five years’ imprisonment for individuals
To find out more about what the new laws will mean to your business, visit Workcover NSW here.
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