The Office of Best Practice Regulation, which supports Safe Work Australia, recently released "Improving the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Laws Issues Paper and Consultation Regulation Impact Statement". The Issues Paper seeks feedback on issues of apparent regulatory burden since the implementation of the model WHS laws.

Issues with the model WHS laws

The Issues Paper sets out 21 questions on which the Council of Australian Governments (COAG)1  seek feedback. Some of the questions raised in the Issues Paper are as follows:

  1. Which aspects of the duty on officers, if any, should be changed?  
  2. What limitations, if any, do you think should be placed on the powers provided to WHS entry permit holders to enter a workplace?  
  3. Which aspects of health and safety representatives' powers and functions, if any, should be changed?  
  4. Which areas of the model WHS regulations, if any, are more burdensome than beneficial, difficult to comply with or unworkable in practice and how could these requirements be changed?  
  5. What improvements could be made to the model Codes of Practice to make them more useful?

Many of the questions in the Issues Paper are phrased in a way that seek relevant examples and evidence from those who make submissions to support their views, for example to identify the impact of the proposed change.

Time limit for submissions

The feedback through consultation on matters in the Issues Paper will be managed by the applicable WHS regulators in the states and territories and the Australian government where the model WHS laws have been enacted. Stakeholders such as workers and employers will have the opportunity to submit feedback on the issues identified.

The results of local consultations are required to be submitted by each government by 1 August 2014. However the timeframe for stakeholder submissions may vary between WHS regulators and you should check the timing for submissions with the applicable regulator in your jurisdiction.

The consolidated feedback will form the basis of a report provided to COAG by the end of 2014 with recommendations on improving the model WHS laws.

How can Gadens assist?

This review process offers stakeholders the opportunity to make submissions on improving aspects of the model WHS laws which are burdensome or involve unnecessary red tape. It presents the opportunity for businesses and workers to have a say on what's overly complex, needs to be changed, requires clarification or where further guidance is required.