Senate Urged to Release Brakes on National OHS Reform

The BCA urges the Senate to remove a potential handbrake on business activity by reconsidering amendments to the Bill establishing Safe Work Australia in the parliamentary sessions resuming from this week.

BCA Chief Executive Katie Lahey said the removal of any barriers to the efficient operation of businesses were even more important in tough economic conditions.

“In the current climate businesses need every help to get on with the job. The amendments sought by the Senate jeopardise moves to make business operations and employment of workers simpler across our jurisdictions,” Ms Lahey said.

“The amendments sought by the Senate in the last sitting are inconsistent with the agreement by all governments at COAG to deliver a uniform national system of occupational health and safety (OHS) laws.”

“Business fought hard for this agreement to be reached over many years because of its importance in contributing to the removal of duplicated, overlapping and inconsistent business regulations across jurisdictions.

“The BCA remains strongly of the view that the implementation of a nationally consistent OHS legislative framework is critical to realising the aim of a seamless economy for Australia.

“The existence of multiple OHS laws and regulations creates needless complexity in managing the essential safety of Australian workers. Inconsistent OHS laws also add substantially to compliance costs for employers.

“Having one set of OHS laws, regulations and enforcement practices is critical to achieving simple and understandable laws. This requires a national framework,” Ms Lahey said.

Ms Lahey said the lack of opportunity to be consulted on the Senate’s amendments was disappointing.

She urged the Senate to consider the views of business and pass the Bill in its original form when it is returned from the House of Representatives in the coming session.