There is a suite of legislative and other changes in the pipeline as we head toward 2018.

Work Health and Safety Legislation

Most prominently, as our readers are no doubt aware the Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill was passed through Parliament mid-October, implementing key recommendations from the Best Practice Review of WHS Queensland (released on 22 August 2017).  On ascent, the amendments introduce the new offence of “Industrial Manslaughter” (applicable across both the WHS & Electrical Safety Legislation), prohibit enforceable undertakings being accepted for contraventions involving a fatality and establishes the framework for the increased emphasis of the Codes of Practice by providing a 5 year ‘lifespan’ for the Codes.

The restoration of the status of the Codes of Practice prescribing that the code is to be followed unless equal to or better than measures can be demonstrated is due to take effect 1 July 2018.  Other provisions due to take effect then include the re-introduction of the WHSO and the requirement that a current list of WHSO’s are displayed, and the mandating of HSR training within six months of being elected.

On proclamation the jurisdiction of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) will be expanded to hear disputes relating to work health and safety issues, in addition to establishing an independent statutory office for WHS prosecutions.

Heavy Vehicle ‘Chain of Responsibility’ Legislation

The Legislation that governs the Heavy Vehicle ‘Chain of Responsibility’ requirements within Queensland – the 2012 Heavy Vehicle National Legislation (‘HVNL) – prescribes that registration, vehicle operation standards, mass, dimension and loading requirement, speeding and fatigue must be managed for heavy vehicles greater than 4.5t.

In mid-2018 the HVNL will move to a primary duty model similar to the WHS Legislation, with a positive duty on executive officers and the inclusion of a ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’ standard. The changes in legislation will impose an obligation to eliminate and minimise public risks by doing everything reasonable to ensure transport related activities are safe. This means that all parties must actively prevent breaches and eliminate any arrangement that may cause or encourage another to break the law.  Executive officers will have a “due diligence” obligation to ensure parties in the chain of responsibility comply with their requirements under the law.  Under the 2018 changes, Authorised officers of the regulator will also have increased powers to obtain documents and information as evidence of potential breaches (without the need for a related event to initiate ‘entry’). 

A presentation on this legislation and the 2018 changes will be provided at the next Safety Networking Group function – please contact us for more details.

Electrical Wiring Rules (AS / NZS 3000) 

We are also mid-way through a prescribed 6-month transition period for changes to the Electrical Wiring Rules (AS / NZS 3000) which is referenced in the Electrical Safety Legislation.

While technical in nature, the changes aim to re-focus attention on the need for a risk assessment prior to working on energised parts, more effective supervision, and the testing of electrical works. The changes enhance the protection requirements for arc faults & arc fault detection, earthing and RCD protections.   All electrical work performed after the 6-month transition period will need to comply with the new rules.

QRMC’s specialist electrical consultant can provide advice in relation to these changes and the management of electrical safety.

And ISO 45001

The development of the ISO 45001 – New Standard for Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems is progressing with a structure similar to the ISO standards for Quality Management, Environmental Management & Risk Management, using the Annex SL format. While it is likely that this will have an impact on AS 4801 in the long-run, the official decision is yet to be finalised. The expected publication date for ISO 45001 is February – March 2018.

Stay tuned for more QRMC updates as these changes roll out.