New work health and safety legislation introduced in the ACT

The ACT Government has introduced new work health and safety legislation in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday that will require more worker training and consultation on major construction sites.

The Work Health and Safety Amendment Bill 2018 will cover major construction projects with a contract price over $ 5 million will require employers to establish work groups in consultation with eligible unions; facilitate the election of Health and Safety Representatives; establish a Health and Safety Committee; and ensure Health and Safety Committee members received appropriate training.

“The ACT Government knows that a workplace where workers are supported by union representatives is a safer workplace and will continue to support initiatives that strengthen unions’ critical role in workplace health and safety,” said Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations, Rachel Stephen-Smith.

Minister Stephen-Smith said the government is committed to continually improve and ensure the highest possible standards of workplace health and safety in the ACT.

“Workers should be given the highest level of protection against harm to their health, safety, and welfare from hazards and risks arising from work.

“The amendments go above and beyond what is provided for in the national harmonised WHS laws to raise the standard of communication and consultation on health and safety in the construction industry.

“The new legislation was developed following a review into the ACT construction industry’s work health and safety culture, conducted by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in 2017, which suggested that health and safety culture could be improved with more meaningful consultation with workers on workplace safety.

“Empowering workers and their representatives to have a stronger say on workplace health and safety issues and providing more training to health and safety representatives and committees will help drive improvements in the culture of safety on ACT construction sites.”

The new legislation will be debated in the months to come and is expected to come into force on 1 January 2019.

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