What's New in OH&S

The purpose of this page is to bring new issues in OH&S to the attention of Network members and users. 



Congratulations Ian Ewart, OAM, OStJ

For those not aware, our own Ian Ewart was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in the Queen's Birthday 2012 Honours List. Apart from 40+ years of community service through the CFA, St John Ambulance and to the community of Callignee, Ian was also recognised for his signifiant contribution to the safety industry which started with his appointment as a training officer with the National Safety Council in 1979. Along the way, he became the safety coordinator at Loy Yang B (with its variery of owners' names) and was one of the founding members of the Gippsland OHS Network in 1994. Ian has also shared his passion for health & safety by mentoring a number of safety professionals and is most deserving of his award.


Work Health and Safety Act and Regulations - coming, but when

The Victorian Government has called on the Commonwealth to defer for 12 months, the implementation of National OHS Harmonisation laws. In a recent media release, the Assistant Treasurer, the Hon Gordon Rich-Phillips, stated "the Commonwealth had not provided the information needed to assess fully the impacts of the national laws on Victoria and details of the package were still not finalised, despite the proposed 1st January 2012 commencement date. The Victorian Government supports the principle of OHS harmonisation; however we need to ensure that the proposed package is in Victoria’s interests".

The Victorian Government has now started work on a supplementary independent Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) to assess the impact of the proposed laws on Victoria. This is expected to take several months. The Victorian Government has also stated that the 12 month delay will allow for outstanding issues to be addressed and provide businesses with a greater opportunity for preparation.

In the meantime, WorkSafe will continue to enforce Victoria’s existing OHS Legislation and Compliance Codes.

The proposed Work Health and Safety (WHS) Legislation comprises a model WHS Act and Regulations to be supported by National Codes of Practice. The new WHS laws will apply to all States, Territories and the Commonwealth. In Victoria they would replace the existing OHS Act 2004, OHS Regulations 2007 and Compliance Codes.

The model WHS Act, Regulations and National Codes of Practice can be viewed on the Safe Work Australia Website


Work Health and Safety Act and Regulations - coming on 1 January 2012

The Australian Government has identified work health and safety as a priority area for reform. One of the key elements of the reform agenda is harmonisation – moving towards one set of work health and safety laws.

The harmonisation of work health and safety laws aims to reduce the incidence of death, injury and disease across Australia.

Currently all states and territories are responsible for making and enforcing their own work health and safety laws. Although these draw on a similar approach for regulating workplaces, there are some differences in the application and detail of the laws

In July 2008,  the Council of Australia Governments formally committed to the harmonisation of work health and safety laws and, on 11 December 2009, the Workplace Relations Ministers' Council endorsed the Model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act.   A set of model regulations and Codes of Practice were released for publlic comment on 7 December 2010 and, once finalised, all jurisdictions will need to draft complimentary legislation for implementatin on 1 January 2012.  For more information, see the SAfe Work Australia website at  Also stay tuned to network presentations during 2011 that will attempt to prepare Gippslanders for the implementation of the new safety laws.


Worksite Safety - Traffic Management Code of Practice 2010

This is relevant to anyone who conducts or arranges works on roads or road reserves.  If this is you, then you need to obtain a copy of the Code and understand it.  WorkSafe and VicRoads websites provide more guidance regarding working on roads and how to obtain a copy of the Code. 


OHS Regulations 2007

The new OHS Regulations took effect on 1 July 2007.  While largely a translation exercise of the previous 13 individual regulations into one consolidated set, there are some changes that folks need to know about.  In addition, Part 5.1 contains new regulations regarding Construction which take effect on 1 July 2008.  If you don;t know about these regulations, then you need to attend the October series of seminars presented by the Gippsland and East Gippsland OHS Networks.  See the network links on the left for details of seminars/events.

Consolidated OHS Regulations - January 2007

WorkSafe has been working hard to consolidate all of the separate OHS regulations into one set of Regs.  The draft Regs (all 500 pages) were released for public comment on 20 January 2007.  The deadline for submissions to WorkSafe is 28 February.  For more details, including the format of contributions and the location of documents, see the WorkSafe website at 

Sun Protection on Construction Sites - November 2005

WorkSafe will begin enforcing sun protection on construction sites, following the recent launch of Working Safely in the Sun, a joint initiative with SunSmart, a program of the Cancer Council Victoria.
Launched at the MCG construction site as part of National Skin Cancer Action Week, Working Safely in the Sun will see WorkSafe inspectors visiting more than 300 worksites to ensure construction workers are adequately protected against sun damage.
"We set out to change the culture of the construction industry from one of stripping off when the sun comes out, to one of covering up," says WorkSafe's Construction and Utilities Director, Geoff Thomas. "WorkSafe now expects all employers of outdoor workers to have sun protection measures in place during the months when UV radiation is at a harmful level."
Data from the Cancer Council Australia's National Sun Survey indicates many outdoor worksites are hearing the SunSmart message. 50 per cent of surveyed outdoor workers indicated there was a sun protection policy at their workplace, and over 40 per cent were provided with hats and sunscreen.
While Thomas says these results are encouraging, he believes it's time to get tough on workplaces which are failing to put sun protection measures in place.
"Employers and workers have had time to get the message that it's not acceptable to be exposed to high levels of UV radiation," he says. "WorkSafe will now be enforcing sun protection measures, and failure to comply may result in prosecution."
SunSmart program manager, Kylie Strong, agrees that sun protection of outdoor workers must be taken seriously.
"Skin cancer is an almost entirely preventable disease, and yet affects one in two Australians during their lifetimes," says Strong. "Because they are generally outside during peak UV radiation times, outdoor workers are a particularly high risk group for contracting skin cancer."
"Employers can play a vital role in protecting their workers against sun damage," Strong says. "For example, simply by encouraging workers to wear sun protective clothing such as long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses, and to reapply broad-spectrum SPF30+ sunscreen every two hours, employers dramatically impact the UV exposure levels of their staff."
Over the past two years, 26 per cent of construction workers who volunteered for free medical checks funded by WorkSafe were found to have sun damage requiring referral for further medical attention.
For further information on working safely outdoors, including the Guidance Note Sun Protection for Construction and other Outdoor Workers, visit the WorkSafe website at  Other good information is available on the SunSmart website at


Safety Action News - August 2005 is pleased to welcome Safety Action, a Melbourne-based risk management consultancy, to our business directory.  Safety Action has joined at our invitation in order to provide access to Safety Action News, which is now available to you at no cost.  Safety Action News is one of the best free independent safety newsletters, and is delivered to subscribers electronically once per month, at no cost, and with no obligation.  To take advantage of this offer, click on Safety Action in the Business Directory and follow the prompts.  For a sample, click on the following links:


New OHS Act 2004 - January 2005

A new OHS Act was approved by the Victorian government in December 2004 and takes effect (in the main) on 1 July 2005.  Anyone involved in the operation of a business, whether as owner, manager or supervisor; as well as designers, manufacturers and suppliers, need to understand the obligations that the new Act places upon them.  WorkSafe, employer associations, unions and safety networks will be running information sessions throughout 2005.  Look out for the nearest one and go to it - ignorance will be no excuse if something goes wrong in your workplace.


New Road Management Act 2004, and Worksite Safety - Traffic Management Code of Practice

This is relevant to anyone who conducts or arranges works on roads or road reserves.  If this is you, then you need to obtain a copy of the Code and understand it.  WorkSafe and VicRoads websites provide more guidance regarding working on roads and how to obtain a copy of the Code.  (Use the Links button.)


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