Update from Marie Boland: The first four weeks
Last week marked the halfway point of the public submission and consultation process for the review of the model work health and safety (WHS) laws.
I have held over 30 meetings and met with approximately 130 people across Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory over the past four weeks. I am learning a lot about how the WHS laws are working in practice through my conversations with regulators, WHS and legal practitioners, businesses, unions, industry organisations, researchers and community groups. I have also been pleased to read the insightful comments coming through the discussion forums and submissions.
So far I have heard a range of common themes and challenges including:
- The role of the model WHS laws in providing consistency and a common language for safety, particularly for organisations operating across multiple states and territories.
- A desire for clarity and a common understanding around consultation and representation requirements.
- The complexities of dealing with regulatory scope creep between WHS and public health and safety, particularly in the recreational and adventure tourism industries.
- An appetite from small business for more practical advice and guidance around interpreting the WHS laws.
- The challenges of psychological health, including bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace.
- Hazards associated with isolated or remote work, for example workplace violence.
Reflecting the views and experiences shared with me to date, I have decided to open two new discussion forums to further explore:
- the requirement for duty holders to consult, co-ordinate and co-operate to meet shared duties, and
- worker consultation provisions, including provisions for consultation policies, Health and Safety Representatives and WHS Committees.
Having heard about the issues in these areas, I am now keen to hear your suggestions for improvement, including your rationale.
I encourage you to keep contributing to the online discussion forums or make a written submission in response to the discussion paper. Your feedback is vital to ensure my review report reflects your knowledge and experiences.