Harmonisation of WA general and resources safety laws

In terms of harmonisation of the general WHS laws, the Work Health and Safety Bill 2014 (WA) (which is based on the federal Model Work Health and Safety Act), has been drafted in respect of general industry and was open for public consultation until January 2015. Further modifications were required as a result of the consultation process, and the WHS Bill is yet to be finalised. There is currently no indication about the timing of the Bill being introduced into Parliament.

In terms of harmonisation of the resources WHS laws, in mid 2015, the Department of Mines and Petroleum released a mock up of a harmonised Work Health and Safety (Resources) Bill 2015 (WA) to consolidate the safety provisions of existing mining, petroleum and major hazard facilities legislation into one statute that will supplement the general harmonised WHS Act. The WHS Resources Bill will contain specific clauses to regulate the resources industry and is expected to be introduced into Parliament in early 2016, and commence on 1 January 2017. The WHS Resources Bill will replace the current mines safety legislation - the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 (WA) and the Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995 (WA).

New WHS laws for the NSW mining and petroleum industry

The Work Health and Safety (Mines and Petroleum) Legislation Amendment (Harmonisation) Act 2015 (NSW) and the Work Health and Safety (Mines and Petroleum) Amendment (Harmonisation) Regulation 2016 (NSW) took effect on 1 February 2016.

The new laws complete the harmonisation process of WHS laws for New South Wales' resources sector and extend the Work Health and Safety (Mines) Act 2013 (NSW) to the onshore petroleum sector (and will be renamed the Work Health and Safety (Mines and Petroleum Sites) Act 2013 (NSW).

Transitional arrangements are in place for many of the provisions affecting the petroleum sector. It is anticipated that Mine Safety NSW will develop a range of WHS guidelines and forms for the sector.

Incident-prevention strategy released by NSW Mine Safety

NSW Mine Safety has developed a 43-page incident-prevention strategy based on the following three key foundations:

  • Risk-based intervention – developing a framework for the ongoing identification and verification of risk profiling, incorporating risk control measure verification, and consideration of deployment practices to target areas of risk priority;
  • Human and organisational factors – researching and considering the impact of human and organisational factors on risk management and reporting; and
  • Quality data – collecting, analysing and using robust data to support the risk-based intervention strategy, incorporating consideration of human and organisational factors.

Proposed reforms to the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS)

The Department of Health released a second consultation paper in February 2016 in relation to proposed reforms to the NICNAS. The reforms are aimed at ensuring that the assessment of the risks associated with the industrial use of chemicals is more proportionate to the risks likely to be posed by industrial chemicals, while also maintaining Australia's robust health, safety and environmental standards. A full list of the proposed reforms can be found in the consultation paper.

Safety laws for dangerous goods amended in Western Australia

The Dangerous Good Safety Regulations Amendment Regulations 2016 (WA) took effect on 5 February 2016. The Regulations introduced 58 amendments to the safety laws relating to dangerous goods. The Department of Mines and Petroleum Resources Safety released a fact sheet listing the relevant amendments.

Global changes to WHS Safety Management Systems Standard

In October 2016 the AS/NZS 4801 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (AS/NZS 4801) will be replaced by the international ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management System Standard (ISO Standard).

The ISO Standard will be the new benchmark to assess WHS management systems for organisations. It will be applicable to any organisation regardless of its size, type and nature. While the ISO Standard like the AS/NZS 4801 is not legally binding on organisations, it may be taken into consideration by the courts when determining whether an organisation took steps to minimise WHS risks so far as is reasonably practicable.