Harmonisation of occupational health & safety laws

9 August 2011

Through the Council of Australian Governments, the Commonwealth and all State and Territory Governments agreed to introduce national model workplace health and safety laws by 31 December 2011.

At this stage, the Model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act has been finalised and WHS Bills passed by New South Wales, Queensland and South Australian Parliaments. The legislation largely reflects the Model Act, with some variations. It is expected that other States will introduce their WHS Bills within the next few months. There are uncertainties about the introduction of the Model WHS legislation in Western Australia.

New South Wales has also introduced legislation, with effect from 7 June 2011, to amend the current Occupational Health and Safety Act 2001 (NSW). The amending legislation removes the reverse onus of proof in relation to the general duties to ensure health, safety and welfare and replaces the current deeming provision with a proactive duty for officers to exercise due diligence.

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