By on March 9, 2005

Summary of Updates

On Monday 7th February, the National Occupational Health & Safety Commission (NOHSC)became the Australian Safety and Compensation Council (ASCC),under the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations. The changes to NOHSC were flagged by the Federal Government last year.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 has been passed by parliament,with most sections of the new Act to come into effect July 2005. The new Act makes a number of changes that will help people create safer and healthier workplaces. In the lead-up to 1 July, WorkSafe will be conducting seminars, issuing publications and hosting information sessions regarding the updated Act. For further information and to register for a seminar/information session, please refer to the WorkSafe website at www.worksafe.vic.gov.au and select the link to the OHS Act.

Tendered submissions

Melbourne 2030
A submission on planning for sustainable growth in the Casey Cardinia, Hume & Melton-Caroline Springs areas.

VCEC (Victorian Competition & Efficiency Commission) Inquiry
A submission on the VCEC inquiry into regulatory barriers to regional economic development.

IQA (Institute of Quarrying Australia)
A submission on the IQA proposed certified practicing quarry management system (a national system to recognise the professional status of quarry managers and supervisors).

National Occupational Health and Safety Commission
A submission of a CMPA designed template for NOHSC’s investigation into ‘Safe Design Guidelines’ CASCRM (Capital Acquisition, Selection and Commissioning Reference Manual).

Upcoming submissions

Ministerial Council on Mineral & Petroleum Resources (MCMPR)
A submission on comments to the draft principles for engagement with Communities and Stakeholders.

Ministerial Council on Mineral & Petroleum Resources (MCMPR)
A submission on comments on the National Mine Safety Framework, in particular, Strategy 4 – National Coordinated Protocol on Enforcement.

Adhere to OHS responsibilties, Directors Warned

Company officers as defined by Victoria’s OHS Act 2004 have been advised to ensure reporting systems,record-keeping and issue tracking procedures are in place ahead of July 1, when the Act comes into force.

“The degree to which officers are kept informed means these systems become very important,” Maddocks partner Catherine Dunlop told a Melbourne briefing this week.

“How are you tracking information and how is information being passed on? The focus on meeting your duties means there needs to be culture.” Dunlop confirmed the “really significant” change under the Act was the duty of officers, who can be a director, CEO,secretary or someone who has “direct line responsibility for OHS.”

“We’re not sure how this is going to work for government workers. There is some uncertainty and we’ll have to wait and see how the courts deal with it,” she said.

Under the new Act, if an officer fails to take “reasonable care” to provide a safe system of work, the courts can consider actual knowledge and the ability to make relevant decisions, which could see “everyone rushing and asking for their job descriptions to be clearly defined,” Dunlop said.

Under the old Act, an officer had to “consent, connive or show wilful neglect” in the commission of an OHS offence. New duty holders under the 2004 Act include those who manage or control, rather than occupy, a workplace.

“It’s enough for WorkCover to assert, not prove, it’s a workplace. It can include a car or vessel, or any place where work is happening,” Dunlop said.

New duties also extend to designers of buildings or structures used as a workplace, and those installing, commissioning or erecting plant at a workplace.

Reprinted courtesy of Occupational Health News, published by Thomson, phone: 03 9205 0681

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