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As part of its commitment to improving safety for Queenslanders at work, the Palaszcuk Government has introduced a number of changes to the State’s work health and safety (WHS) laws.

Legislation that was recently passed to restore elements of the original Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld), which were altered following a review of the laws in 2012. We would like to remind our members of these changes.

In summary, these amendments:
• allow WHS entry permit holders to enter a workplace immediately if they suspect a contravention has occurred;
• allow trained health and safety representatives to direct workers to cease work which would expose the worker to a serious and immediate or imminent risk to their health and safety;
• allow trained health and safety representatives to request the immediate assistance of any person at the workplace;
• remove the penalty for failing to provide notice of entry (which is a notable departure from the current national WHS laws);
• reduce the maximum penalty for contravening WHS entry permit conditions from 200 penalty units (currently $23,560) to 100 penalty units (currently $11,780); and
• require the regulator to be notified of workplace injuries that result in an absence for more than four days.
These amendments came into effect from 22 October 2015 and essentially revive some of the powers for health and safety representatives that were removed by the Newman Government.

For some employers, these changes are a step backwards and will only allow unions to continue using safety issues as a mechanism for seeking other industrial agendas.

For more information on work health and safety contact us here.