There is a clear trend in the States and Territories with harmonised WHS laws toward agreeing enforceable undertakings (EU) with the relevant regulator as an alternative to prosecution.
As part of this, we have seen regulators willing to accept EUs on terms that depart from what traditionally may be considered as 'standard' terms. It is our observation that the regulators are expecting to see more innovative proposals and a focus on safety leadership, in particular at the Board and executive level. It has also become more important for an organisation to be able to show the EU proposal has been the subject of consultation with workers.
The benefit of an EU is significant, in that it offers an opportunity to an organisation to significantly improve health and safety culture, while also contributing to improved safety outcomes within its industry and community.
It is important an organisation considers its options in relation to applying for an EU from the early stages of a regulatory incident investigation and certainly before any complaint and summons or equivalent in your State or Territory is issued. Even if a complaint and summons does not result, planning ahead can mean the EU proposal is targeted to the safety issues facing the business.
Some recent examples of the terms of EU proposals have included:
- development of an all industry mobile phone application for managing and monitoring industry contractor issues
- introducing initiatives to improve the literacy and numeracy of non-English speaking staff
- providing work experience to local high school students and job seekers in the logistics and manufacturing industry
- holding a community day in partnership with the Cronulla Sharks NRL team to promote workplace health and safety
- producing training videos based on the safety incident
- delivering presentations at industry forums
- funding first aid courses
- developing a farm safety video for children.