New health and safety regulations have officially been passed through the Legislative Council in New South Wales as part of the federal government’s national harmonisation.
The state’s leading industry body has welcomed the changes, which it says will finally bring New South Wales into the 21st century.
NSW Minerals Council Acting CEO Sue-Ern Tan said that the new OHS removed the grievous elements of the law in NSW that have not contributed to the improvement of health and safety standards.
“This truly is a landmark day for health and safety in NSW,” Tan said.
“For serious offences where you risk going to jail, you now have fundamental legal rights such as the right to be tried by a jury of your peers and the right to appeal to the highest court in the land.
“You also no longer have to prove your innocence, which is a standard everywhere in our legal system except under the draconian NSW OHS Act.
Tan says while the new legislation is a step in the right direction, more needs to be done to protect workers and employers.
“It is unfortunate though that we don’t have a truly harmonised regulatory framework, after amendments to allow unions the right to prosecute were made to the Bill in the Upper House.
“This is not in keeping with the national laws.
“Safety is our number one priority.
“We can now finally say that the laws in NSW support that priority rather than stifle it.
“The Work Health and Safety Bill 2011 will allow employers and workers to focus on continuous improvement and best practice rather than compliance.
“The Australian mining industry is the safest in the world. We are continually striving to reach our target of zero harm and we firmly believe that the new harmonised OHS laws will help the industry continue its journey towards that goal.”