In Queensland, employers will no longer have to appoint a workplace health and safety officer (WHSO) under the state's model OHS laws.However, while the current legislative requirement for employers to appoint WHSOs will cease in Queensland from 1 January 2012, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) expects that many businesses will voluntarily keep their WHSO to assist them in complying with their obligations under the model laws when they commence.
The model Work Health and Safety laws impose a specific duty on officers of corporations and unincorporated bodies such as clubs and associations to exercise due diligence to ensure that work health and safety obligations are met, and WHSQ said this requires officers to be proactive in compliance.
"It is important to note the duty to exercise due diligence will always remain with the senior officer and cannot be outsourced or delegated to a safety advisor such as a WHSO. Employing a WHSO or safety advisor is one available option to help officers meet their duties," said WHSQ.
In the lead up to these changes, the certification of WHSOs has been extended until 31 December 2011, and this extension applies to those WHSOs whose recertification date falls due on or after 13 May 2011.
Businesses that are looking to appoint a WHSO in 2011 have the opportunity to use an alternative method to meet their obligations until the commencement of the harmonised WHS laws, and alternatives include engaging a consultant with WHSO certification on an as needs basis or using one WHSO for multiple worksites.