Work Health and Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 (ACT)

Tuesday 23 January 2018 @ 9.55 a.m. | Industrial Law | Legal Research

The Work Health and Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 (ACT) (the "Bill") was introduced into the Australian Capital Territory’s Legislative Assembly on 30 November 2017. This Bill is the proposed next step in the ACT’s implementation of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (Cth) (the "national model regulation").

Background

In July 2008, the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments signed the Inter-Governmental Agreement for Regulatory and Operational Reform in OHS (IGA). The overall goal of the IGA was to “formalise cooperation between the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments on the harmonisation of OHS legislation and to establish appropriate governance arrangements to support this cooperation.” (at 1.1, COAG, 3 July 2008). 

“The fundamental objective of the reform covered by this Agreement is to produce the optimal model for a national approach to OHS regulation and operation which will:

  1. enable the development of uniform, equitable and effective safety standards and protections for all Australian workers;
  2. address the compliance and regulatory burdens for employers with operations in more than one jurisdiction;
  3. create efficiencies for governments in the provision of OHS regulatory and support services; and
  4. achieve significant and continual reductions in the incidence of death, injury and disease in the workplace” (at 1.4, COAG, 3 July 2008).

In giving effect to the IGA, the ACT enacted the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (ACT) (the "WHS Act"), and the supporting Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (the "WHS Regulations"). The regulations, while comprehensive, did not provide for chapter 7 (Hazardous Chemicals), chapter 8 (Asbestos) or chapter 9 (Major Hazard Facilities) of the national model regulation. Chapter 8 was introduced into the ACT’s work health and safety framework on 1 January 2015.

The Bill

The purpose of the Work Health and Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 is to incorporate chapters 7 and 9 of the national model regulation into the ACT’s current legislative framework. The Bill proposes to do this by amending the Dangerous Substances Act 2004 and the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, as well as making other consequential amendments (see Schedule 1).

Part 2 of the Bill handles the amendments to the Dangerous Substances Act. Importantly, the Bill substitutes the definition of “dangerous substance” in section 10 of the Dangerous Substances Act. The proposed definition presented by the Bill is:

"(1) In this Act: dangerous substance means a substance that is—

  1. classified—
    1. as an explosive under the Australian Explosives Code; or
    2. in class 1 (Explosives) under the ADG Code; or
  2. asbestos; or
  3. a security sensitive substance; or
  4. prescribed by regulation to be a dangerous substance; or
  5. declared under subsection (2) to be a dangerous substance.

(2) The Minister may declare a substance to be a dangerous substance."

Part 3 of the Bill purports to amend the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. Importantly, the Bill inserts a new section 12AA into the WHS Act which states: “Schedule 1 provides for the application of this Act to dangerous goods and high risk plant.”

TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.

Sources:

Work Health and Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 (ACT) and Explanatory Speech available from Timebase's LawOne service.

Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (Cth) available from Timebase's LawOne service.

Dangerous Substances Act 2004 (Cth) available from Timebase's LawOne service.

Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (ACT) available from Timebase's LawOne service.

Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (ACT) available from Timebase's LawOne service.

Inter-Governmental Agreement for Regulatory and Operational Reform in OHS (3 July 2008). Council of Australian Governments(COAG).

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