Source: WorkSafe ACT
In 2008, Workplace Relations Ministers from around Australia agreed to
nationally harmonise work health and safety (WHS) laws. Safe Work Australia
is currently developing
national model WHS laws, which the
Commonwealth and each State and Territory will implement by the end of
The ACT has agreed to implement these laws. The new Work Health and safety
Act will replace the Work Safety ACT 2008. New regulations and codes of
practice will also replace the existing regulations and codes of practice
currently in force in the ACT.
Under harmonisation, each state and territory will still have its own
health and safety legislation, which will be administered by its own
WorkSafe / Workcover type
body. There should only be very slight
variations to that legislation between jurisdictions.
Current Version of the Model
current version of the draft Model Work
Health and Safety [WHS] Act can be downloaded from the Safe Work
draft Model Work Health and Safety [WHS]
Regulations and Codes of Practice are available for public comment
and can also be downloaded from the Safe Work Australia website.
In July 2008, the Council of Australia Governments
(COAG) formally committed to the
harmonisation of OHS legislation by signing an Intergovernmental
Agreement for Regulatory and Operational Reform in OHS.
The Agreement outlines the commitment of all states and territories and the
Commonwealth to work together to develop and implement model OHS
legislation as the most effective way to achieve harmonisation of OHS Laws
in Australia. By reducing costs and eliminating unnecessary administrative
processes, harmonisation is an initiative designed to make it easier for
workers and for employers who conduct business across multiple states.
The Agreement also provides for the establishment of a new independent body
to drive the development and implementation of the model OHS legislation.
On 3 April 2009, the Workplace Relations Ministers' Council
(WRMC) endorsed the creation of
Safe Work Australia and the
establishment of the Safe Work Australia Council.
An independent panel has reviewed OHS laws in each state, territory and the
Commonwealth and advised WRMC on the optimal structure and content of a
model OHS Act that can be adopted in all jurisdictions.
The National OHS Review panel provided two reports making recommendations
on the optimal structure and content of a model OHS Act.
The First Report - October 2008. This
report covered the regulatory context; duties of care; offences relating
to breaches of duties of care; other matters relevant to duty of care
The Second Report - January 2009. This
report covered objects and definitions; workplace consultation,
participation, representation and protection; other health and safety
obligations; the role of the regulator, of inspectors and of others in
securing compliance; regulations, codes of practice and other matters.
WRMC made decisions in relation to the National OHS Review recommendations
and provided Safe Work Australia with directions on the scope and content
of the model Act in early April 2009.
On 28 September 2009, Safe Work Australia released the draft Model Laws for
public comment. The draft laws can be downloaded from the
Safe Work Australia website.
The Model Act has now been endorsed by the Australian OHS jurisdictions
with agreement to adopt the model law in each jurisdiction by 1 January
Work is now underway on a set of Model Regulations and Codes of Practice to
accompany the Model Act.
The Model Act has already been endorsed by all of the Australian
jurisdictions and is due to be passed into law in each state or territory
at some point in 2011, to take effect from no later than 1 January 2012.
The proposed timeline for harmonisation is as follows:
Key features of the Model WHS Act,
Regulations and Codes of Practice
Safe Work Australia will shortly release Fact Sheets on the following
topics which cover some of the key features of the new legislation:
Work Health and Safety Duties
Codes of Practice
Health and safety representatives
Health and Safety Committees
Right of Entry
Role of the Regulator
Role of Inspectors
Review of Decisions.
Resources available about the
proposed changes in the ACT
As resources and information becomes available regarding the proposed
changes here in the ACT, they will be made available here.
Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs] about the Model WHS Act
- Further Fact Sheets will be added shortly