Communique - Safe Work Australia Members' Meeting 19
THURSDAY 3 APRIL 2014
Safe Work Australia Members met in Sydney today. Key outcomes of the meeting are below.
Model work health and safety (WHS) laws
Members provided an update on implementation of the model WHS laws in jurisdictions. In response to a request from the Select Council on Workplace Relations (Select Council), advice on the amendments to the model WHS laws has been provided to the Select Council for consideration.
Members discussed the 2014 Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Review of the model WHS laws.
Members noted progress on collecting information to evaluate the model WHS laws against objectives of the Intergovernmental Agreement for Regulatory and Operational Reform in Occupational Health and Safety and agreed to further work being undertaken to inform the 2014 COAG Review.
Future directions of Safe Work Australia
Members discussed the ongoing role and future priorities of Safe Work Australia, consistent with its functions as set out in the Safe Work Australia Act 2008. Members noted the importance of Safe Work Australia continuing to operate and engage at a strategic national level and agreed to focus on the following:
- monitoring, reviewing and evaluating the model WHS laws to improve operational efficiency, remove unnecessary regulation and improve safety outcomes
- facilitating simple, practical guidance to aid compliance, particularly for small business
- collecting, maintaining, improving and reporting on national work health and safety and workers’ compensation data
- identifying priority issues, undertaking and disseminating research, including on emerging issues
- national coordination and monitoring of the implementation of the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 (Australian Strategy)
- promoting consistent messages on work health and safety
- improving consistency in workers’ compensation arrangements, and
- liaising with other countries or international organisations as appropriate on matters relating to work health and safety and workers’ compensation activities.
Members noted this focus will be reflected in the 2014-2015 Safe Work Australia Operational Plan.
Priority hazardous chemicals
Members agreed by majority to commence work on scoping the possible national interventions for priority hazardous chemicals. The process for prioritising hazardous chemicals was agreed by Members at its March 2013 meeting and aligns with the priority diseases related to hazardous chemicals in the Australian Strategy – cancer, dermatitis and asthma.
Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 (Australian Strategy)
Members provided an update of initiatives being undertaken to support the Australian Strategy. Members noted progress in planning a web-based conference on the implementation of the Australian Strategy to be held throughout October 2014 as part of Safe Work Australia Month.
Members noted progress on workers’ compensation activities in the areas of permanent impairment assessment, deemed diseases and the 2014 National Return to Work Survey.
Members noted other key activities being undertaken, including:
- The 9th annual Safe Work Australia Awards will be held at Old Parliament House in Canberra on Monday 28 April 2014 to recognise and celebrate excellence in work health and safety at a national level.
- Progress on establishing a high level policy framework for nationally consistent explosives legislation.
- Safe Work Australia is representing Australia in a sub-group of the G20 Taskforce on Employment to consider how the G20 might contribute to safer workplaces. The sub-group comprises representatives from six other countries and the International Labour Organization.
The next meeting of Safe Work Australia will be held in May 2014 in Sydney.