In 2012 the old Occupational Health and Safety Act was replaced with new legislation, the Work Health & Safety Act. The changes place a far larger onus on the owners, managers and responsible officers of a business to exercise due diligence and ensure compliance of the Act within the workplace.
The penalties under the new act were increased to:-
Work Health & Safety Act 2012
What does it mean?
- The elimination or the minimisation of risk of harm to workers, or others, during the course of work or employment.
How is it achieved?
- Through the development and implementation of a systematic process of identifying, assessing, controlling and monitoring workplace hazards.
Key Changes Include:
- New positive duty of care for officers, with due diligence defined. Under the WHS laws there is a positive duty of care imposed on directors and senior officers of corporations or workplaces, to exercise ‘due diligence’ to ensure the health and safety of persons performing work for that organization.
- increased penalties and a wider range of compliance and enforcement options
- protection for volunteers
- workers right to cease or refuse unsafe work
- broader powers of union officials upon entry right
Under the new safety laws, there are some key changes that will affect the safety culture in your business. These include the following:
- expanded duty of care
- expanded consultation obligations
- positive duties on “officers”
- greater ability for your business’ reputation to be tarnished
- greater ability for intervention by unions and the regulators
An employee injured onsite whilst operating machinery resulting in finger being amputated. A few months later second incident resulting in worker being injured. Worksafe investigated and issued proceedings against the company & Directors for alleged breaches of WH&S Act 2012.
The Insured was found to have breached the WH&S Act. The company was fined $98,000 and Director fined $26,000
A Diesel Workshop
During heavy storms, the workshop had moved a large truck (petrol tanker) inside to complete repairs. A worker climbed on top of the tanker and slipped on the ladder due to it being wet, falling and breaking his ankle.
Upon investigation it was found that the workshop did not have adequate hazard identification processes in place.
The Insured was found to have breached the OH&S Act. The company was fined $42,000 and Director fined $12,600
Breaches to WH&S Legislation amount to over 70% of all statutory fines and penalties issued in Australia
During many site visits to our clients, when the subject of Workplace Health and Safety arises, many workshops are still in the dark on how the changes to the legislation applies to their business, thus leaving themselves exposed to fines, penalties and even criminal prosecution.
Upon review we have seen, that whilst many workplaces will have a Workplace Health and Safety manual, in many cases it is either
- Incomplete; and/or
- Out of date; and/or
- Not relevant to the exposures faced:
Throughout our networks we have recently seen a spike in the number of workshops who have been visited by compliance officers and most have been issued with either improvement/notices and/or fines
What can you do?
Ensure your WH&S manual is up to date and contains the following:
- Develop and Implement a WHS policy statement
- Appoint a WH&S Manager for your workshop
- A risk hazard identification plan is undertaken and all hazards identified are documented and procedures put in place to minimise risk
- Incident report forms are acted upon and reported
- Regular documented toolbox meetings are conducted by the appointed WH&S safety manger
- Testing and tagging of all equipment is current
- Trip & Storage hazards are identified
- All fire extinguishers/hose reels/sprinkler systems are well maintained and are correctly secured and accessible
- Housekeeping standards are adhered to including the storage of oils/chemicals and oily rags
- Non- smoking policies are adhered to
- Authorised operators registers are kept up to date for any machinery in the workplace
- Ensure your Management Liability; / Workers Compensation policies are current
If you are unsure what your exposures are Austbrokers ABS Motor Trades can assist you with your compliance issues. We have our own in-house specialist Workers Compensation team and also access to our partner business which has designed an on-line solution specific to the Motor Trade Industry that is an exclusive offering to the network and is available from $220 per month.
The on-line system will ensure your WHS manual is current, relevant and compliant please contact Steve Jones at Austbrokers ABS Motor Trades on 0455 109 945 or via e-mail [email protected] for further details.
Information for this article has been sourced from Employers Mutual NSW Ltd
Austbrokers ABS and Austbrokers ABS Motor Trades are trading names of Austbrokers Sydney Pty Ltd ABN 14 061 968 090 AFSL No. 244244