Harmonised workplace safety laws a long time coming

New South Wales’ peak resource industry body says the introduction of new harmonised workplace health and safety laws will bring the state into the 21st century.

The NSW Minerals Council says Australia has been putting workers and businesses at risk by having separate laws for each state.

“The minerals industry, like many others, straddles a number of jurisdictions. Having nine different systems across the country is bad for business, bad for our workforce and bad for workplace safety,” NSW Minerals Council acting chief executive said.

“The new national OHS laws will achieve better health and safety outcomes for workers by reducing red tape and allowing both employers and employees to focus on continuous improvement and best practice rather than simply compliance.

The NSW Minerals Council believes the new legislation will be a giant step towards the goal of “zero harm” it is constantly working towards.

“We commend the NSW Government for keeping its word and delivering on its promise to introduce this legislation within its first 100 days. This is a huge step towards the implementation of an historic reform.”

Tan also welcomed proposed changes to the current draconian health and safety laws in NSW, which she says deprive accused persons and defendants of basic legal and human rights.

“There is absolutely no reason why NSW should be any different to other States.

“Unions do not have the right to prosecute employers in any other jurisdiction and these laws will bring NSW into line with the rest of the country.”

The Minerals Council has also welcomed a change which will see OHS prosecutions dealt with in the Supreme Court.

Like any other criminal matter, if there is a risk of you going to jail then you should be tried by a jury of your peers and have the basic legal rights that are afforded to anyone else in the justice system,” Tan said.

“Safety is the number one priority of the minerals industry now and will remain our top priority under the new harmonised national laws.

“The Australian minerals industry is the safest in the world.

“We are continually striving to reach our target of zero injuries and the new Model Act will help the industry continue its journey toward that goal.”

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