Next year, governments around Australia will adopt a single, uniform, harmonised occupational health and safety regime (OHS).
There is good news and bad news in this shift.
The good news is that a harmonised set of rules will make it much easier for businesses that operate across state borders to understand and comply with OHS requirements. It will also be much easier to train and educate workers, as they will only need to learn about one set of rules.
The bad news is that the rules are complex, and will require changes in your OHS policies, depending on where you are located. The new laws will also create a giant bureaucracy that SMEs may need to deal with.
There are 10 months until the changes come in on July 1, 2012, so businesses need to start getting their heads around the changes.
As a starting point, read this article by OHS expert and lawyer Andrew Douglas, which runs through the big changes and the timetable for change.
Secondly, start talking with your industry group about specific changes that could influence your sector.
And remember, there are some big penalties involved here in mistakes. For example, breaches of risk assessment processes can incur fines of between $30,000 to $60,000. Signage and instruction breaches carry fines of $18,000 to $36,000 and record keeping breaches have a top fine of $6,000.00.
Get across this – today!