Work Safety Progress Not Completed Until All States In

Managing workplace safety will be more efficient across most states and territories following the agreement today by Australian governments to adopt consistent occupational health and safety laws, BCA Chief Executive Katie Lahey said.

Ms Lahey welcomed the decision of the Workplace Relations Ministerial Council (WRMC) to agree to a model OHS Act. This is a significant improvement on the 10 statutes and 400 regulations that had existed previously throughout Australia.

“Harmonisation of occupational health and safety laws is one of the most important issues for businesses which operate across borders in Australia,” Ms Lahey said.

“Having many different systems for workplace safety across Australia imposes unnecessary costs on business with no benefit in terms better safety outcomes. Different regulations also impede the movement of workers across jurisdictions. 

“Harmonisation of workplace safety laws is one of the greatest tests for the effectiveness of cooperative federalism through COAG,” she said.

Ms Lahey acknowledged the leadership of the Rudd Government and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Julia Gillard, in progressing this important reform in co-operation with the states and territories. Credit must also go to the states for recognising the broader benefits of these reforms.

“While it is disappointing that Western Australia has decided not to enact the model Act at this stage, I am pleased the state has agreed to continue to work towards harmonisation with the new national system and to participate in Safe Work Australia,” Ms Lahey said.

“Western Australia is urged to speed its progress towards participating in the national system.

“For there to be a truly effective and efficient national system of workplace safety it needs the involvement of every jurisdiction in Australia.

“Workplace safety should mean the same thing whether you are working in Melbourne, Sydney or Perth,” Ms Lahey said.