Work Health and Safety – Company Directors Getting Ready for the New Laws


Australia has 10 different laws relating to Occupational Health and Safety. This will change on 1 January 2012 with the introduction of the Work Health and Safety Act. The Federal Government has established Safe Work Australia to implement the new laws.

The Australian Institute of Company Directors, in the August 2011 edition of their magazine “Company Director” published an article by Domini Stuart summarising the changes.

The article referred to a checklist prepared by Steven Cole, chairman of Emerson Stewart for company directors to implement to ensure their businesses are ready for the new laws (this also applies to business owners of all kinds). The list includes:

  1. Engaging an occupational health and safety expert to give a high level presentation to the board (or your business) on the principles and effects of the new regime;
  2. Review the existing occupational health and safety arrangements and practices and report these to the board, along with recommendations for improvements and assured compliance;
  3. Use these findings as the basis for a comprehensive review of your business’ occupational health and safety policies and procedures;
  4. If your business does not have a specialist occupational health and safety expert on the executive, ensure that an appropriate and suitably competent person has responsibility for the occupational health and safety function in your business;
  5. Schedule regular reports and reviews of your business’ occupational health and safety practices in your calendar, including board meetings;
  6. Ensure board members, or management if you are not a company, visit relevant work sites from time to time so they have a thorough understanding of the workplace environment and practices.

Directors and management of businesses throughout Australia are now in a position to influence the occupational health and safety regime of their organisation. It is imperative to address this now so that appropriate procedures are in place come 1 January 2012. It is very important to establish a culture now to ensure safety is taken seriously.

Please contact me if you need any assistance with your businesses implementation of its occupational health and safety practices so as to ensure compliance.

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