On 16 May 2014, the WHS Amendment Act commenced, implementing the findings from the government review of the national model WHS laws. The key changes are:
- health and safety representatives cannot direct workers to cease unsafe work;
- PCBUs do not have to provide a list of HSRs to the regulator;
- WHS entry permit holders must give PCBUs at least 24 hours' written notice before entering workplaces to investigate suspected safety contraventions and the maximum penalty for breach of entry rules has been doubled to more than $20,000;
- the maximum fine for breaches of the Electrical Safety Regulation 2002 has been increased to $33,000 (previously $4400), to match the WHS penalty regime; and
- Queensland can approve, vary or revoke WHS Codes of Practice without consulting Safe Work Australia's tripartite members.
On the same day, the WHS Amendment Regulation also came into effect in order to implement changes to the model WHS Regulation coming out of the government review. The changes largely relate to reducing, removing or clarifying obligations relating to audiometric testing, protective structures on earthmoving machinery and asbestos. In summary, the WHS Amendment Regulation:
- removes the requirement for audiometric testing for certain workers, instead proposing that guidance be included in the relevant code;
- removes the requirement to fit protective structures to earthmoving machinery;
- streamlines requirements for Class B asbestos removal licences and provides greater flexibility in relation to who can carry out a clearance inspection following Class B asbestos removal work;
- provides for an inspector to take action to direct the clean up of a site in certain circumstances;
- provides when an asbestos register is not required, including amending the date nominated to trigger asbestos register requirements for workplace buildings so that it aligns with the date under Queensland's former occupational health and safety laws; and clarifying that they are not required for domestic premises;
- amends various provisions so that notifying the WHS Regulator of certain things does not have to be done in writing;
- allows the WHS Regulator to publish an online register of high risk work licence holders and accredited assessors; and
- increases the maximum penalty for breaches of various provisions in the Electrical Safety Regulation 2013.