Australia's WHS ministers have agreed to amend the model WHS Regulations to prescribe control measures for psychological risks, and significantly increase safety penalties, but proposed industrial manslaughter laws were voted down at their meeting yesterday.
A global employer will down tools and conduct meetings on minimising occupational cancer risks, for World Day for Safety and Health at Work today. World safety day has also prompted renewed calls for Australia-wide industrial manslaughter provisions and an accelerated response to the review of the model WHS laws.
The Federal Government has been urged to use its "deciding vote" to add industrial manslaughter provisions and s-xual harassment controls to the national model WHS laws, while Comcare has released a series of guides on preventing workplace s-xual harassment and implementing early intervention programs for injured workers.
In a significant development, given the recent safety scandals involving the importation and use of asbestos-containing materials, the model WHS Act has been amended to make it mandatory for regulators to issue notices when they believe "prohibited asbestos" is present at a workplace, with maximum fines of $500,000 for those that fail to comply with a notice.
The national inquiry into workplace s-xual harassment has recommended the model WHS laws be amended to control psychosocial risks, in line with the Boland review, and that a WHS Code of Practice on s-xual harassment be developed.
A new impact statement on the recent review of the national model WHS laws has warned that some recommendations could increase compliance costs with minimal safety benefits, including the recommendation to include the hierarchy of controls in the Act.