The WHS Act places the primary health and safety duty on a person conducting a business (or undertaking). Section 27 of the model WHS Act places that duty on senior individuals, (described as officers) to require them to take reasonable steps to support a health and safety culture, ensure accountability, allocation of resources and development of appropriate policies.
Lack of compliance can result in significant fines and even prison sentences. Individuals including senior managers can now be prosecuted as well as the local government authority. In local government the senior individuals exclude Councillors, however can include all other levels of management involved in decision making.
Penalties for non-compliance have increased. A tiered regime of penalties has been introduced, with a maximum penalty, for the most serious breaches, of $3 million for a corporation and $600,000 and/or five years’ imprisonment for individuals.
Where do the laws apply?
The following states and territories now use harmonised WHS legislation instead of previous OH&S laws:
• Australian Capital Territory
• The Commonwealth of Australia
• New South Wales
• Northern Territory
• South Australia
Western Australia is also close to adopting the harmonised WHS legislation
How do I comply?
In short, the key is to understand hazards and have processes to ensure hazards are managed in a systematic way. One strategy adopted by a number of local government authorities is to implement consistent and sustainable processes through the use of safety management software.
Software tools like myosh contain mobile offerings which allow all staff and contractors to log incidents and hazards using their mobile phones. Senior managers should be able to view reports to determine how they are performing. Complying requires making software a part of the normal day to day operations.
By Adrian Manessis