NSW Draft Public Health Regulation Open for Consultation

Tuesday 12 April 2022 @ 10.59 a.m. | Legal Research

On 11 March 2022, the Draft Public Health Regulation 2022 (NSW) (‘the Draft Regulation’) was released for public consultation. The Draft Regulation seeks to replace the Public Health Regulation 2012 (NSW) (‘the 2012 Regulation’), which is due for staged repeal on 1 September 2022.

Consultation on the Draft Regulation is currently open. Further details on submissions and the progress of the consultation can be found on the NSW Government website.

Areas of Regulation

According to the Regulatory Impact Statement, the Draft Regulation covers the following subject areas:

  1. "Legionella control (Part 2)
  2.  control of public swimming pools and spa pools (Part 3)
  3. control of skin penetration procedures (Part 4)
  4. safety measures for drinking water (Part 5)
  5. notifications and record keeping requirements for scheduled medical conditions (Part 6)
  6. disease control measures (Part 7)
  7. disposal of bodies (Part 8)
  8. miscellaneous (Part 9)
  9. fees payable in relation to improvement notices, prohibition orders and inspection of premises."

The Regulatory Impact Statement identifies tParts 2, 3, and 8 as the subject areas where the Draft Regulation has the greatest potential impact and benefit relative to the status quo.

The proposed changes in Parts 4, 6 and 7 are identified as having “some benefit/improvement” and the remaining parts will have “no significant impact” as they largely replicate the current existing provisions of the 2012 Regulation.

Legionella Control

Regulatory Impact Statement defines:

“Legionnaires' disease is an infection of the lungs (pneumonia) that occurs when a person breathes in bacteria that are commonly found in the environment”.

Part 2 of the Draft Regulation proposes provisions that intend to contribute to:

“a reduction in the frequency, severity and impact of legionellosis outbreaks at a marginal cost to occupiers of premises on which cooling systems are installed.”

The Draft Regulation seeks to do so by introducing:

  • a statutory requirement for the disinfection of cooling water systems that are assessed as a risk to public health;
  • a statutory protection for the independence of auditors conducting risk assessments (to ensure they are not currently employed by or have performed recent work for the entity being audited); and
  • penalty notice offences for a failure to comply with the statutory obligations imposed on occupiers of premises on which a cooling water system is installed including having certain documents available for inspection purposes and notifying the relevant government authority of any changes to the particulars provided about the system.

Control of swimming pools and spa pools

The Regulator Impact Statement emphasises that public swimming pools and spas are:

“an ideal medium for the transmission of disease and these facilities have been associated with cases and outbreaks of illness due to harmful microorganisms.”

The Draft Regulation proposes two key changes regarding the control of swimming pools and spa pools. Firstly, the Draft Regulation proposes a new definition of a public swimming pool or spa pool which will effectively exclude from the definition water play parks which use a public water supply, do not use a recirculation system and do not store water.  According to the Regulatory Impact Statement, this change reflects the low health risk these facilities pose.

Secondly, the Draft Regulation proposes to remove all references and requirements to Oxidation Reduction Potential Systems ('ORP systems'). The Regulatory Impact Statement explains:

“This proposed change to the Regulation effectively removes ORP systems as an accepted alternate method for monitoring and controlling water quality in public swimming pools and spa pools. As a result of this change, public pools and spas currently fitted with ORP systems would be required to measure and maintain the same minimum chlorine and bromine disinfection levels set in the Regulation as any other pool.”

Disposal of Bodies

The Regulatory Impact Statement highlights the importance of:

“ensuring that the funeral industry follows appropriate infection control standards and procedures to dispose of bodies in an adequate and safe manner is necessary to promote and protect public health.”

The proposed changes regarding disposal of bodies include:

  • increasing the time hospitals are allowed to retain bodies from 5 to 21 days to provide more flexibility for the hospital, funeral directors and families;
  • requiring mortuaries to register bodies immediately after a body is delivered for preparation rather than after the body is prepared;
  • allowing bodies to be buried in a shroud to accommodate for “the interment practices and beliefs of all religious and cultural groups” and “provide greater consumer choice for people interested in shroud burials for other non-religious reasons” (Note - Currently, bodies must be buried in a coffin unless an exemption is obtained for religious reasons); and
  • simplifying the administrative and documentation requirements of the cremation process for the purpose of “reducing the administrative burden for funeral directors and their clients and reducing cremation costs for families of deceased persons”.

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[Draft] Public Health Regulation 2022 (NSW) and regulatory impact statement available from TimeBase's Lawone website

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