Safe Work Australia recently released its model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations and priority model Codes of Practice for public comment.
The model regulations total almost 600 pages and provide detailed requirements about the elimination or minimisation of risks from various hazards as well as administrative matters such as licensing and registration, according to Norton Rose partner Barry Sherriff, who was a member of the National OHS Review panel for the model WHS laws.
The matters covered by the regulations include representation and participation of workers (including issue resolution and union right of entry); general workplace management (including facilities, first aid, emergency plans); hazardous work; noise; electrical work; and plant and structures.
Other matters covered include: construction work (including high risk work and principal contractor obligations); mines (to be released early 2011); registration and licensing details; and exemptions from specific requirements of the regulations.
The priority Codes of Practice cover off matters including: how to manage work health and safety risks; how to consult on work health and safety; hazardous manual tasks; how to prevent falls at the workplace; how to manage and control asbestos in the workplace; and facilities for construction sites.
“The effectiveness and reasonableness of the regulations and Codes of Practice is very reliant on the extent and quality of input by those who will have to implement the various measures in the workplace,” said Sherriff in a recent legal update on the model WHS laws.
“Although the documents have been developed through a tri-partite process, with considerable expertise and experience applied to them, there may be elements that are unclear, may not be effective or may impose costs that are disproportionate to the degree to which relevant risks are minimised by those measures.”
The public comment period is therefore most important, said Sherriff, who will be assisting the Safety Institute of Australia in preparing its submission to Safe Work Australia on the model WHS laws as a member of the institute’s National Technical Panel.
“The release of the regulations and Codes of Practice clearly demonstrate that the introduction of the model laws will occur and the amount of work that will be required to be ready for their commencement at the end of next year,” he said.
“Understanding and complying with the new requirements of the model Act and regulations should now be a priority for action early in 2011.”
For more information on the public comment process, which closes on 4 April 2011, visit www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au .