Communique - Safe Work Australia Meeting 13

Thursday 14 March 2013

Safe Work Australia Members met in Sydney today.

Ann Sherry AO was appointed as the new Chair of Safe Work Australia in February 2013. Safe Work Australia Members welcomed Ms Sherry to her first meeting. Ms Sherry was pleased to announce the appointment of Denise Cosgrove from WorkSafe Victoria, Simon Blackwood from Workplace Health and Safety QLD, Doug Phillips from the Northern Territory Department of Business and Heidi Robinson from the ACT Office of Industrial Relations as new Members.

On behalf of Safe Work Australia Ms Sherry thanked outgoing Chair Tom Phillips AM for his significant contribution to work health and safety and workers’ compensation in Australia. Members recognised Mr Phillips’ work on the development and implementation of the model work health and safety (WHS) laws and development of the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022. Mr Phillips was inaugural Chair of Safe Work Australia from 2009 to 2013.

Progress on implementing the model WHS laws

The WHS laws commenced in the Commonwealth, ACT, NSW, NT and QLD on 1 January 2012. The WHS laws commenced in Tasmania and SA on 1 January 2013. Other jurisdictions provided status reports on implementation.

Safe Work Australia Members agreed by majority to a number of technical amendments to the model WHS Regulations. The amendments will be published on the Safe Work Australia website and individual jurisdictions will determine when these amendments will be implemented.

Workplace bullying

The Australian Government referred 10 of the 23 recommendations in the report Workplace Bullying ‘We just want it to stop’ to Safe Work Australia. Members agreed to progress a response to each of the recommendations and noted further consultation will take place as the work proceeds.

Public comment

Members agreed by majority to release the revised draft Code of Practice: Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying and draft Workplace Bullying – Guide for Workers for public comment. The public comment period will be open for six weeks.

A Consultation Regulation Impact Statement on the draft Code of Practice will be released for public comment after it is approved by the Office of Best Practice Regulation.

Members agreed by majority to release the draft Code of Practice: Managing Risks in Stevedoring for public comment subject to agreed amendments. The public comment period will be open for six weeks.

All documents are being released for public comment. Members are seeking comment on a number of key issues. These documents will be available at


Members agreed to publish the Triennial Review of the National OHS Strategy 2002-2012 on the Safe Work Australia website with the standard disclaimer.

Work-related fatalities reporting

Members agreed to compile work-related fatalities occurring on public roads at a national level only. National figures for work-related fatalities of workers and bystanders on public roads will be compiled and published in the Notifiable Fatalities Monthly Report released by Safe Work Australia. These fatalities had previously been compiled at a jurisdictional level.

Workers’ compensation

Members agreed by majority to a work program to progress workers’ compensation in 2013-2014. The work program is based on an evaluation of the National Workers’ Compensation Action Plan 2010-2013 through consultation with Safe Work Australia member organisations.

The work program includes proposals for nationally consistent arrangements for the assessment of permanent impairment. Members agreed by majority to recommend this proposal to the Ministerial Council for consideration. If endorsed by the Ministerial Council, individual jurisdictions will determine how these arrangements will be implemented.

Hazardous chemicals

Members agreed by majority to a process for prioritising hazardous chemicals. Members noted the process will be refined over time to produce a manageable list of chemicals for national action or intervention.

Selected chemicals will align with the priority list of work-related disorders in the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022.

ACT construction industry report

The report on the ACT construction industry Inquiry into compliance with work health and safety requirements in the ACT’s construction industry included two recommendations for the ACT Government to consult with Safe Work Australia on the model WHS laws.

Members agreed to consider Recommendation 2 on information and training for construction workers and Recommendation 13 on training work health and safety committee members for further action.

Next meeting

The next meeting of Safe Work Australia will be held in May 2013.

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