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Work Health and Safety Queensland

Worksafe Queensland has noted that amendments recommended following the 2018 review of the model Work Health and Safety laws (WHS laws), are likely in the coming months.

Further to our previous client alerts in relation to changes to Work Health and Safety laws in New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria, Worksafe Queensland has noted that whilst amendments recommended following the 2018 review of the model Work Health and Safety laws (WHS laws), are yet to be enacted in Queensland this is likely in the coming months.1

This may be part of the Queensland government’s 5 yearly review process, which commenced in late August 2022. According to the Office of Industrial Relations, this year’s review will look at the overall effectiveness of the key components of the WHS Act in achieving its objects including:

  • Considering and reporting on any need for amendments to ensure:
    • provisions relating to health and safety representatives are effective and operating as intended
    • workers are appropriately represented and assisted in the workplace for the purpose of health and safety matters
    • the effectiveness of the legislative framework for review and stay provisions with enforcement notices under the WHS Act
    • provisions relating to the issue and dispute resolution are effective and operating as intended.
  • Any other matters relating to the WHS Act’s overall effectiveness and performance in ensuring a balanced framework to secure health and safety of workers and workplaces and consider whether any legislative or administrative amendments are required.2

The review  is being conducted by “Craig Allen, former Deputy Director General of the Office of Industrial Relations; Charles Massy, a barrister specialising in Industrial Relations and Employment; and Deirdre Swan, former Deputy President of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.”3 According to the review’s terms of reference:

“The reviewers will report to the Minister on their findings on the operation of the Act and make recommendations for key amendments for improvement.

The review will be evidence-based and include consultation with employers, registered industrial organisations, the legal profession and academics, in addition to other interested stakeholders.”4

The consultation period closed on 23 September 2022. The findings and recommendations have yet to be presented to the Queensland government.

If Queensland follows New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria, is likely to:

  • makes it an offence:
    • for a person, without reasonable excuse, to enter into, offer to enter into or be a party to a contract or other arrangement that purports to insure or indemnify a person for the person's liability to pay a pecuniary penalty under the Work Health and Safety Act (Qld) 2011;
    • for a person to receive a benefit under a term of a contract or other arrangement that is a term which purports to insure or indemnify the person for the person's liability for a pecuniary penalty under the Relevant Acts or the regulations;
    • for a person to provide a benefit to another person under a term of a contract or other arrangement that is a term which purports to insure or indemnify that other person for that person's liability for a pecuniary penalty under the Relevant Acts or their regulations.

If Queensland follows Western Australia, then in addition to the above the amendment will makes an insurance policy of no effect to the extent that it would indemnified a person for the person’s liability to pay a fine for an offence against the Work Health and Safety Act (Qld) 2011.

Importantly, in New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria, there is no prohibition in respect of indemnity for legal costs incurred in defending a prosecution and the relevant WHS Acts.

For further information, please contact your Marsh broker or visit our website at marsh.com.

 

[1] published https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/news-and-events/newsletters/esafe-newsletters/esafe-editions/esafe/june-2022/model-work-health-and-safety-law-amendments-published

[2] https://www.hcamag.com/au/specialisation/workplace-health-and-safety/queenslands-work-health-and-safety-act-review-to-begin-next-week/417369

[3] Ibid

[4] Terms of reference – 2022 Review of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld)

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