The passage of the Safe Work Australia Bill through the Parliament represents a significant milestone in the move towards a national Occupational Health and Safety regulatory regime, according to Minerals Council of Australia CEO Mitch Hooke.
The legislation establishes Safe Work Australia as an independent statutory agency to give effect to the Intergovernmental Agreement for Regulatory and Operational Reform and Occupational Health and Safety agreed by COAG on 3 July 2008.
Safe Work Australia will be tasked with developing a draft Model OH&S Act.
“The MCA supports a single OH&S Act covering all sectors and jurisdictions and industry specific national regulations, where required, complemented by national codes of practice and guidelines,” Hooke said.
“The minerals industry has been advocating legislative and regulatory reform that enhances the protections of workers and is consistent with the industry’s goal of zero harm in the workplace.”
There are currently 10 principal statutes — six state, two territory and two Commonwealth – governing OH&S in Australia as well as numerous regulations and codes of practice.
“This raft of overlapping OH&S laws, standards and requirements is confusing for workers and diverts business from the primary goal of improving workplace health and safety,” Hooke said.
“These problems are amplified when businesses operate across multiple jurisdictions where additional and inconsistent industry specific OH&S legislation exists.”
The MCA has called for the National Mine Safety Framework to form the basis of national minerals-industry specific regulation within the Model OH&S Act.