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Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2017 (the amendment Act). Now in force.  

The amendment Act amends the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act to implement key recommendations of the Best Practice Review of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.  

A summary of the amendments is outlined below. 

Provisions to commence on assent of the amendment Act: 

  • Introduction of a new offence of industrial manslaughter in the WHS Act with mirror amendments in the ES Act and SRWA Act 
  • Requirement for a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to provide the regulator with a list of Health and Safety Representatives and deputy Health and Safety Representatives for each work group 
  • Prohibiting enforceable undertakings being accepted for contraventions, or alleged contraventions, of the WHS Act that involve a fatality, with mirror amendments to the ES Act and the SRWA Act, and 
  • Providing that codes of practice will expire five years after they are approved to allow for more timely review of codes. 

Provisions to commence on 1 July 2018: 

  • Restoring the status of codes of practice as existed under the repealed Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 to require the safety measures in a code to be followed unless equal to or better than measures can be demonstrated 
  • Mandating training for Health and Safety Representatives within six months of being elected to the role, with refresher training to be undertaken at three-yearly intervals 
  • introducing the ability for a PCBU to appoint a Work Health and Safety Officer (WHSO) 
  • Requiring a PCBU to display a current list of WHSOs for the workplace 
  • Enabling the appointment of a WHSO or the election of a HSR to be permissible as evidence that a PCBU has taken action to mitigate health and safety risks, and 
  • Clarifying inspector investigation powers under section 171 of the WHS Act to ensure these powers are not inappropriately limited by a legal technicality.

In demonstrating due diligence, officers will need to show that they have taken reasonable steps to: 

  • Acquire and update their knowledge of health and safety matters 
  • Understand the operations being carried out by the person conducting the business or undertaking in which they are employed, and the hazards and risks associated with the operations 
  • Ensure that the person conducting the business or undertaking (PCBU) has, and uses, appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise health and safety risks arising from work being done 
  • Ensure that the PCBU has appropriate processes in place to receive and respond promptly to information regarding incidents, hazards and risks 
  • Ensure that the PCBU has, and uses, processes for complying with duties or obligations under the WHS Act.