Manufacturers can delay OHS laws

With the OHS due to take place next year, businesses can now delay Work Health and Safety laws by up to 12 months if the transformation will embark significant change.

Federal Workplace Relations Minister Chris Evans will announce today that Safe Work Australia has arrangements to help businesses move to the new system from January 1, reported in the Australian.

"The transitional arrangements will apply to the model occupational health and safety regulations and provide delayed commencement of up to 12 months or more where the new laws result in a new or significantly different set of duties," Senator Evans said.

Despite the delays in the harmonising the new Work Health Safety Laws, there are currently several states that are ready.

Seven out of nine jurisdictions have now approved the model regulations and codes of practice, and have committed to meeting the deadline of 1 January 2012.

Victorian and Western Australian governments are the only two yet to sign up.

This follows Victorian Assistant Treasurer Gordon Rich Phillips calling for a year-long delay in September, claiming the state supports harmonisation, but has emphasised it needs to be able to assess the benefits and costs to Victoria, and could not do so until a state-specific regulatory impact statement was done.

A further setback came into effect in September with WA Unions accusing the state of stalling the OHS Harmonisation laws, claiming the state was putting politics before the state’s workers.

Senator Evans urges Victorian and Western Australian Government’s to honour their commitment to implement these reforms by 1 January 2012.

“These reforms will make Victoria and Western Australia safer and businesses more productive,” he said.

Australian Industry Group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Business Council of Australia as well as the Australian Council of Trade Unions support the reforms.

Senator Evans said the reform has the potential to deliver up to $2 billion per annum in productivity improvements, in addition to a national benefit of $250 million per annum by cutting red tape for businesses.

“While most jurisdictions will enjoy the benefits of the reforms, Victorians and Western Australians are in danger of missing out.