Changes to the Occupational Health & Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) are in force as of 26 October. The changes cover a number of areas of workplace safety but one key change is the substantial increase to the penalties for failing to notify WorkSafe of an incident.
What are the changes?
Some of the changes now in effect are as follows:
The penalty for failing to notify WorkSafe of “notifiable incidents” and the failure to preserve a notifiable incident site has increased from $9,514.20 to $38,056.80 for individuals and from $47,571 to $190,284 for companies
The definition of “medical treatment” has been updated to include situations where treatment is administered by a nurse or midwife
It is now an offence to fail to comply with an “enforceable undertaking”. For individuals, the penalty is $79,285 and for companies the penalty is $396,425
Prosecutions for breaches of the OHS Act can be after the two-year time limit under certain circumstances, such as new evidence being discovered that could not have been reasonably discovered within the relevant limitation period.
Giving false or misleading information when complying with the OHS Act is now an indictable offence
Inspectors can now require a person at a workplace to answer any question put by the inspector
It is an offence for an employer to discriminate against an employee for raising a safety concern directly with WorkSafe
What do employers do now?
Most of the changes are focused on the reporting of incidents, and the increased penalties are aimed at what happens after an incident. This means employers should have clear policies and procedures in place to ensure employees know how to respond to any safety incident in the workplace.
For clarification about the changes, or for advice on how to manage safety in your workplace, call Employsure on 1300 651 415.