Work Health & Safety

Employment, Workplace Relations & Safety

Employment, Workplace Relations & Safety » Work Health & Safety

Over the next decade the nature of work in Australia will continue to change in response to economic pressures, technological changes and demographic shifts. These changes will bring new risks, but also new opportunities to improve work health and safety.

In this changing environment Australian business needs to remain competitive and productive. While there are costs inherent in providing healthy and safe workplaces the costs of not doing so are even greater.

On average over 250 workers in Australia die from an injury sustained at work each year. It is estimated that over 2000 workers die from a work-related illness each year. In 2009–10 640 000 workers reported experiencing a work-related injury or illness. In the same year 303 000 workers were compensated for an injury or illness.

The total cost of workplace injury and illness to the Australian economy is in excess of $60 billion per year. The significant economic costs of work-related injury, illness and death are borne by workers, their families, the broader community and employers.

The Corrs team has unique insight into work health and safety policy, regulation and enforcement in Australia. Key members have either spent time in senior executive roles within WHS Regulators or have provided strategic legal advice to WHS Regulators on their compliance and enforcement activity.

Corrs has also developed an intuitive communication tool - Crisis Covered - to help clients effectively manage legal risks in the event of a workplace incident. Crisis Covered can be accessed via any device and is designed to give key people involved in a crisis the ability to communicate in a secure, confidential and immediate way.

Our Experts

Heidi Roberts.jpg

Heidi Roberts

Partner Location Melbourne Profile
Jack de Flamingh.jpg

Jack de Flamingh

Partner Location Sydney Profile
Janine Young2

Janine Young

Partner Location Melbourne Profile
TUCK John website grey SIZED TH

John Tuck

Partner Location Melbourne Profile
DORRICOTT Leanne website grey fake TH

Leanne Dorricott

Special Counsel Location Brisbane Profile
COSTA Marie website grey SIZED TH

Marie Costa

Special Counsel Location Melbourne Profile
Nick Ellery.jpg

Nicholas Ellery

Partner Location Perth Profile
LeMARENickwebsitegreySIZEDTH.jpg

Nick Le Mare

Partner Location Brisbane Profile
RosemaryROCHE.jpg

Rosemary Roach

Consultant Location Perth Profile
PRICE Stephen website grey SIZED TH

Stephen Price

Partner Location Sydney Profile

Our Experience

BP Australia

OH&S is often treated as a one-off compliance issue, but BP Australia is an example of a company that lives and breathes its OH&S management systems.

Since 2004, BP Australia has retained Corrs to analyse and advise on OH&S management and training, including ongoing comprehensive training that ensures systems are constantly reviewed and improved. BP Australia has no prosecutions in this area, and its depth of understanding of its OH&S management obligations is considered exemplary.

More

Laing O’Rourke

Corrs and Laing O’Rourke have successfully acted to overturn a WA Supreme Court decision that could have greatly widened employer safety responsibilities to include third party facilities – such as motels – hired for use by employees.

Laing O’Rourke faced charges when Cyclone George caused fatalities at a Pilbara mining camp in 2007. After the company‘s original acquittal was overturned on appeal, Corrs was engaged and Laing O’Rourke was successful in the Court of Appeal.

More

Victorian WorkCover Authority

Corrs has concluded a review of and drafted many of the regulations, compliance codes and guidance material made under the OHS Act 2004 on which the Model Work Health and Safety draft regulations are modelled.

We have advised the Authority on the implications of amendments to the OHS (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1991 in its operation to non-Commonwealth licencees and on compliance and enforcement powers of the VWA and WorkSafe inspectors. We have reviewed all of the VWA’s operating procedures to take account of the impact of Federal legislation and advised it on the implications of the National Standard for Construction Work. We have advised on implementation of the Hanks QC review of the Accident Compensation Act 1985, including advising on the drafting of amendments to that Act to give effect to the review recommendations and have assisted the Authority in relation to National OHS law harmonisation negotiations.

More

Our Thinking

Industrial manslaughter now a crime in Queensland

The Queensland Parliament has passed the Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 (Qld), which introduced new industrial manslaughter laws and other amendments to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld).

More

Due Diligence Quarterly Q3 2017

Each quarter, Corrs publishes the Due Diligence Quarterly which can assist directors and other officers comply with their personal duty to exercise due diligence under work health and safety laws.

More Download

WA on the march towards model work health and safety laws

As WA progresses to adopting its own version of the harmonised WHS legislation, employers in Western Australia will need to prepare for a number of changes in work health and safety laws over the next two years.

More

Produce your permit: Full Federal Court clarifies union right of entry for OHS purposes

The Full Federal Court of Australia has handed down an important decision relating to union right of entry for occupational health and safety purposes, in Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Powell [2017] FCAFC 89.

More

Why right of entry for safety reasons is not so easy

In this article, we analyse CFMEU (NSW Branch) v Acciona Infrastructure Australia Pty Ltd and Ferrovial Agroman (Australia) Pty Ltd t/as the Pacifico Acciona Ferrovial Joint Venture [2017] NSWIRComm 1000 (17 January 2017).

More

‘A Tragedy Waiting to Happen’: Record OHS fine confirms why risk assessments are key

A tragic recent case in which a transport company was fined a record amount for breaching its OHS duties confirms that safety and legal compliance requires competent risk assessments and a timely response to their outcomes.

More

Leadership Series: The 21st Century Workplace - Part 4

The Leadership Video Series profiles Australian IR, HR and Safety leaders discussing key issues facing 21st century workplaces. Each video aims to connect our clients to the latest thinking on issues surrounding the future of work.

More

Mental Illness and Workplace Disciplinary Law: The 6 Golden Rules

How does a business ensure it is legally compliant when dealing with a worker who suffers (or may suffer) from mental illness? And most importantly, how can it ensure that it does not cause harm to anyone when applying disciplinary processes?

More

Leadership Series: The 21st Century Workplace - Part 3

The Leadership Video Series profiles Australian IR, HR and Safety leaders discussing key issues in the world of work. The aim is to connect our clients to the latest thinking on issues such as innovation, digital disruption, how work is changing, and

More

Across the Ditch – Resignations from Director/Officer Roles in Response to New WHS Laws

The business response to New Zealand’s new WHS legislation provides us with some important reminders about key aspects of the Australian model WHS laws.

More

Redundancy payments and ‘ordinary and customary’ turnover of labour

Two recent decisions by Fair Work Commission Full Benches provide valuable guidance on when an employer can avoid making redundancy payment to employees terminated because of the ‘ordinary and customary’ turnover of labour.

More

Unions now need an MSD to kick-start bargaining

Following a recent amendment to the Fair Work Act, unions must obtain a majority support determination to compel an employer to bargain – rather than immediately resorting to protected action.

More

High Court rules courts can consider agreements on penalty in civil penalty proceedings

Penalty agreements between prosecutors and defendants in civil penalty proceedings are not prohibited. This was confirmed today by the High Court.

More

Leadership Series: The 21st Century Workplace - Part 2

The Leadership Video Series profiles Australian IR, HR and Safety leaders discussing key issues in the world of work. The aim is to connect our clients to the latest thinking on issues such as innovation, digital disruption, how work is changing, and

More

McIntyre v SBS social media dismissal: FWC gives green light for unlawful termination claim

The interaction between general protections and state anti-discrimination laws formed a key aspect of a recent FWC decision in Scott McIntyre’s case against former employer SBS.

More

Amendments agreed to ensure passage of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement

The Government and Labor have reached a deal to ensure passage of the vital China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. We examine the proposed changes to Migration Regulations which will see ChAFTA implemented by the end of this year.

More

Leadership Series: The 21st Century Workplace - Part 1

Corrs Chambers Westgarth Employment, Workplace and Safety Team has launched our Leadership Video Series, in which we profile Australian IR, HR and Safety leaders discussing key issues in the world of work.

More

New complications for foreign workers and company officers in Indonesia

New employment regulations in Indonesia may discourage the appointment of foreign company officers.

More

Does Australia have the right IR system for the workplace of the future?

Four leaders speak out on Australia's industrial relations system and the Productivity Commission's review of workplace relations.

More Download

Disruptors like Uber and AirBnB are changing the employment model - Are Australia’s workplace laws keeping up?

Australia’s IR system has fallen out of step with modern employment business practices.

More Download

Employment, workplace & safety law: Mid-year review

Your guide to the most important employment, workplace and safety developments that are likely to impact your business.

More Download

Preventing work-related death and injury

Hundreds of people are still losing their lives each year in Australian workplaces. Why?

More

Get ready: These are the workplace relations issues to watch in 2014-15

Stay ahead of the key changes to workplace relations laws with our guide to the big issues for the coming year.

More

Asia Employment Law: Quarterly Review: Q1 2014

In the chapter on Australian workplace relations, we highlight the major legislative, consultative, policy and case law changes expected in 2014.

More Download

Social media in the workplace - Risks for employees and lessons for employers

Recent cases have highlighted the perils of social media for employees, and the importance for employers of managing these issues correctly.

More

Mining and oil and gas safety prosecutions set to rise in the West

Businesses that have had a serious safety incident since mid-2011 should be ready for the prosecutor to come knocking.

More

The Seacare Review Report: Will its recommendations be implemented?

In this In Brief, we discuss the proposed reforms to occupational health and safety regulation in the maritime industry.

More

Four ways the Fair Work Act is making business riskier for employers

Making decisions that affect employees is more risky than ever and the penalty of poor planning is conflict with unions and litigation in court.

More

Should abusive conduct by union officials be tolerated in our workplaces?

What can employers do when confronted with obnoxious or offensive behaviour by union officials?

More

Important recent OHS decisions

The High Court of Australia and the Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal have recently handed down important decisions in connection with the duty of care owed under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic).

More

Changed requirements for hazardous chemicals and registration of plant in Queensland

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) is part of a national package of uniform work health and safety legislation. It repealed the Dangerous Goods Safety Management Act 2001 (Qld) and as of 1 January 2012 regulates dangerous goods in Queensland.

More

The Fair Work Act Review and key developments in enterprise bargaining

In this paper, we provide an update on the progress of the Fair Work Act Review and a round-up of some significant recent decisions dealing with enterprise bargaining and protected industrial action.

More Download

A Fairer Work Act?

The government has announced the much anticipated review of the Fair Work Act. Whilst noting the act is working well at the moment this presents an opportunity to see if it can be improved.

More

OH&S - Soon, same state, same laws

Business has been calling for it for a long time - harmonised OH&S laws.

More

Navigating the Fair Work Laws

As more and more companies invest overseas, the need for readily available, accurate, and detailed knowledge of labour and employment laws in multiple jurisdictions becomes an essential resource for employers and their counsel.

More

Legal Compliance in Australia

As more and more companies invest overseas, the need for readily available, accurate, and detailed knowledge of labour and employment laws in multiple jurisdictions becomes an essential resource for employers and their counsel.

More

Transition to Forward with Fairness: Labor’s Reform Agenda

This is a practical guide to these significant transitional arrangements, the full implementation of which was not complete until early 2010. This book, has ongoing relevance as a useful guide to a turbulent phase of workplace relations change.

More

Workplace Relations in the Building and Construction Industry

This book explains the significant changes that have occurred in the regulation of the workplace relations in the building and construction industry in Australia over several years.

More

Our Experience

BP Australia

OH&S is often treated as a one-off compliance issue, but BP Australia is an example of a company that lives and breathes its OH&S management systems.

Since 2004, BP Australia has retained Corrs to analyse and advise on OH&S management and training, including ongoing comprehensive training that ensures systems are constantly reviewed and improved. BP Australia has no prosecutions in this area, and its depth of understanding of its OH&S management obligations is considered exemplary.

Laing O’Rourke

Corrs and Laing O’Rourke have successfully acted to overturn a WA Supreme Court decision that could have greatly widened employer safety responsibilities to include third party facilities – such as motels – hired for use by employees.

Laing O’Rourke faced charges when Cyclone George caused fatalities at a Pilbara mining camp in 2007. After the company‘s original acquittal was overturned on appeal, Corrs was engaged and Laing O’Rourke was successful in the Court of Appeal.

Victorian WorkCover Authority

Corrs has concluded a review of and drafted many of the regulations, compliance codes and guidance material made under the OHS Act 2004 on which the Model Work Health and Safety draft regulations are modelled.

We have advised the Authority on the implications of amendments to the OHS (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1991 in its operation to non-Commonwealth licencees and on compliance and enforcement powers of the VWA and WorkSafe inspectors. We have reviewed all of the VWA’s operating procedures to take account of the impact of Federal legislation and advised it on the implications of the National Standard for Construction Work. We have advised on implementation of the Hanks QC review of the Accident Compensation Act 1985, including advising on the drafting of amendments to that Act to give effect to the review recommendations and have assisted the Authority in relation to National OHS law harmonisation negotiations.

Our Thinking

Industrial manslaughter now a crime in Queensland

The Queensland Parliament has passed the Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 (Qld), which introduced new industrial manslaughter laws and other amendments to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld).

Due Diligence Quarterly Q3 2017

Each quarter, Corrs publishes the Due Diligence Quarterly which can assist directors and other officers comply with their personal duty to exercise due diligence under work health and safety laws.

WA on the march towards model work health and safety laws

As WA progresses to adopting its own version of the harmonised WHS legislation, employers in Western Australia will need to prepare for a number of changes in work health and safety laws over the next two years.

Produce your permit: Full Federal Court clarifies union right of entry for OHS purposes

The Full Federal Court of Australia has handed down an important decision relating to union right of entry for occupational health and safety purposes, in Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Powell [2017] FCAFC 89.

Why right of entry for safety reasons is not so easy

In this article, we analyse CFMEU (NSW Branch) v Acciona Infrastructure Australia Pty Ltd and Ferrovial Agroman (Australia) Pty Ltd t/as the Pacifico Acciona Ferrovial Joint Venture [2017] NSWIRComm 1000 (17 January 2017).

‘A Tragedy Waiting to Happen’: Record OHS fine confirms why risk assessments are key

A tragic recent case in which a transport company was fined a record amount for breaching its OHS duties confirms that safety and legal compliance requires competent risk assessments and a timely response to their outcomes.

Leadership Series: The 21st Century Workplace - Part 4

The Leadership Video Series profiles Australian IR, HR and Safety leaders discussing key issues facing 21st century workplaces. Each video aims to connect our clients to the latest thinking on issues surrounding the future of work.

Mental Illness and Workplace Disciplinary Law: The 6 Golden Rules

How does a business ensure it is legally compliant when dealing with a worker who suffers (or may suffer) from mental illness? And most importantly, how can it ensure that it does not cause harm to anyone when applying disciplinary processes?

Leadership Series: The 21st Century Workplace - Part 3

The Leadership Video Series profiles Australian IR, HR and Safety leaders discussing key issues in the world of work. The aim is to connect our clients to the latest thinking on issues such as innovation, digital disruption, how work is changing, and

Across the Ditch – Resignations from Director/Officer Roles in Response to New WHS Laws

The business response to New Zealand’s new WHS legislation provides us with some important reminders about key aspects of the Australian model WHS laws.

Redundancy payments and ‘ordinary and customary’ turnover of labour

Two recent decisions by Fair Work Commission Full Benches provide valuable guidance on when an employer can avoid making redundancy payment to employees terminated because of the ‘ordinary and customary’ turnover of labour.

Unions now need an MSD to kick-start bargaining

Following a recent amendment to the Fair Work Act, unions must obtain a majority support determination to compel an employer to bargain – rather than immediately resorting to protected action.

High Court rules courts can consider agreements on penalty in civil penalty proceedings

Penalty agreements between prosecutors and defendants in civil penalty proceedings are not prohibited. This was confirmed today by the High Court.

Leadership Series: The 21st Century Workplace - Part 2

The Leadership Video Series profiles Australian IR, HR and Safety leaders discussing key issues in the world of work. The aim is to connect our clients to the latest thinking on issues such as innovation, digital disruption, how work is changing, and

McIntyre v SBS social media dismissal: FWC gives green light for unlawful termination claim

The interaction between general protections and state anti-discrimination laws formed a key aspect of a recent FWC decision in Scott McIntyre’s case against former employer SBS.

Amendments agreed to ensure passage of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement

The Government and Labor have reached a deal to ensure passage of the vital China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. We examine the proposed changes to Migration Regulations which will see ChAFTA implemented by the end of this year.

Leadership Series: The 21st Century Workplace - Part 1

Corrs Chambers Westgarth Employment, Workplace and Safety Team has launched our Leadership Video Series, in which we profile Australian IR, HR and Safety leaders discussing key issues in the world of work.

New complications for foreign workers and company officers in Indonesia

New employment regulations in Indonesia may discourage the appointment of foreign company officers.

Does Australia have the right IR system for the workplace of the future?

Four leaders speak out on Australia's industrial relations system and the Productivity Commission's review of workplace relations.

Disruptors like Uber and AirBnB are changing the employment model - Are Australia’s workplace laws keeping up?

Australia’s IR system has fallen out of step with modern employment business practices.

Employment, workplace & safety law: Mid-year review

Your guide to the most important employment, workplace and safety developments that are likely to impact your business.

Preventing work-related death and injury

Hundreds of people are still losing their lives each year in Australian workplaces. Why?

Get ready: These are the workplace relations issues to watch in 2014-15

Stay ahead of the key changes to workplace relations laws with our guide to the big issues for the coming year.

Asia Employment Law: Quarterly Review: Q1 2014

In the chapter on Australian workplace relations, we highlight the major legislative, consultative, policy and case law changes expected in 2014.

Social media in the workplace - Risks for employees and lessons for employers

Recent cases have highlighted the perils of social media for employees, and the importance for employers of managing these issues correctly.

Mining and oil and gas safety prosecutions set to rise in the West

Businesses that have had a serious safety incident since mid-2011 should be ready for the prosecutor to come knocking.

The Seacare Review Report: Will its recommendations be implemented?

In this In Brief, we discuss the proposed reforms to occupational health and safety regulation in the maritime industry.

Four ways the Fair Work Act is making business riskier for employers

Making decisions that affect employees is more risky than ever and the penalty of poor planning is conflict with unions and litigation in court.

Should abusive conduct by union officials be tolerated in our workplaces?

What can employers do when confronted with obnoxious or offensive behaviour by union officials?

Important recent OHS decisions

The High Court of Australia and the Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal have recently handed down important decisions in connection with the duty of care owed under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic).

Changed requirements for hazardous chemicals and registration of plant in Queensland

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) is part of a national package of uniform work health and safety legislation. It repealed the Dangerous Goods Safety Management Act 2001 (Qld) and as of 1 January 2012 regulates dangerous goods in Queensland.

The Fair Work Act Review and key developments in enterprise bargaining

In this paper, we provide an update on the progress of the Fair Work Act Review and a round-up of some significant recent decisions dealing with enterprise bargaining and protected industrial action.

A Fairer Work Act?

The government has announced the much anticipated review of the Fair Work Act. Whilst noting the act is working well at the moment this presents an opportunity to see if it can be improved.

OH&S - Soon, same state, same laws

Business has been calling for it for a long time - harmonised OH&S laws.

Navigating the Fair Work Laws

As more and more companies invest overseas, the need for readily available, accurate, and detailed knowledge of labour and employment laws in multiple jurisdictions becomes an essential resource for employers and their counsel.

Legal Compliance in Australia

As more and more companies invest overseas, the need for readily available, accurate, and detailed knowledge of labour and employment laws in multiple jurisdictions becomes an essential resource for employers and their counsel.

Transition to Forward with Fairness: Labor’s Reform Agenda

This is a practical guide to these significant transitional arrangements, the full implementation of which was not complete until early 2010. This book, has ongoing relevance as a useful guide to a turbulent phase of workplace relations change.

Workplace Relations in the Building and Construction Industry

This book explains the significant changes that have occurred in the regulation of the workplace relations in the building and construction industry in Australia over several years.

Our Experts

Heidi Roberts.jpg

Heidi Roberts

Partner Melbourne +61 3 9672 3562
Jack de Flamingh.jpg

Jack de Flamingh

Partner Sydney +61 2 9210 6192
Janine Young2

Janine Young

Partner Melbourne +61 3 9672 3254
TUCK John website grey SIZED TH

John Tuck

Partner Melbourne +61 3 9672 3257
DORRICOTT Leanne website grey fake TH

Leanne Dorricott

Special Counsel Brisbane +61 7 3228 9722
COSTA Marie website grey SIZED TH

Marie Costa

Special Counsel Melbourne +61 3 9672 3363
Nick Ellery.jpg

Nicholas Ellery

Partner Perth +61 8 9460 1615
LeMARENickwebsitegreySIZEDTH.jpg

Nick Le Mare

Partner Brisbane +61 7 3228 9786
RosemaryROCHE.jpg

Rosemary Roach

Consultant Perth +61 8 9460 1603
PRICE Stephen website grey SIZED TH

Stephen Price

Partner Sydney +61 2 9210 6236