Legislation forms the basis of the medical practice’s policies and procedures. It is compulsory for a workplace to abide by these laws. Legislation states there is a legal obligation for the employer to show a duty of care towards their employees. A duty of care means they have to anticipate any possible cause of injury or illness and make all practical changes to remove or minimise the risks. This ensures the employers provide a safe and healthy workplace for their staff.
Prior to 2012 each state and territory had its own Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act. However, there are now national laws called the Work Health and Safety (WHS), which is intended to harmonise OHS in Australia.
The new Work Health and Safety laws include the model WHS Act, the model WHS Regulations, 11 model Codes of Practice and the National Compliance and Enforcement Policy.
Safe Work Australia is the national body responsible for developing and evaluation the WHS laws. The commonwealth, states and territories have the responsibility for regulating and enforcing WHS laws in their respective jurisdictions.
Adoption of Work Health and Safety Act (WHS)
The following states and territories have now adopted the national model Work Health and Safety Act: Australian Capital Territory; New South Wales; Northern Territory; Queensland; Tasmania; South Australia; Commonwealth jurisdictions.
– Western Australia intends to adopt the model WHS laws, but with some amendments to the Act.
– Victoria has stated publicly that they will not sign the current proposal for harmonised legislation for OHS. Therefore, the current OHS Act 2004 remains valid in Victoria.
On 1 May 2012, the Victorian Government announced that:
“The Government will not sign up to the current proposal for harmonised legislation for occupational health and safety. It offers little benefit for Victoria to offset the $3.4 billion of estimated costs, the majority of which falls on small business. Victoria will continue to work towards best practice legislation.”
(Reference: Victorian Treasurer, Kim Wells: Budget speech, A Stronger Victoria page 14)