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Applying Australia’s Occupational Health and Safety Laws to Your Business

Posted by Robert O'Neill on Apr 2, 2014 1:24:00 AM
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discrimination law 10282013 (1)Australia’s new Occupational Health and Safety Laws have officially been effective since January 2012, but many jurisdictions have asked for a delay when it comes to the implementation of these rules in their respective states.

Defining PCUBs and Officers

If you are a business owner, what does this mean and how will it affect the whole management? First, let us take a look at the target of these laws. The OHS laws refer to persons who are conducting businesses or undertakings (PCUB). The next question is who is included in this classification? PCUBs can either be a volunteer association, organization, partnership, company or a sole trader. The main obligation of these persons is to make sure that the safety and health of employees can pass as reasonable. However, it is important to keep in mind that PCUBs can successfully meet all their duties if the workers also do their share by making the proper contributions in the exercise of their diligence.

According to Section 27 of the Work Health and Safety Act, officers, or the individuals in the workplace have the duty to exercise proper diligence. Thus, they need to take the right steps in supporting a culture focused on accountability, safety, development of policies, and allocation of resources. These requirements will enable officers to make sure that PCBUs are also doing their own part by applying procedures, policies and practices while in the conduct of their business. In case an officer does not exercise the diligence that is due to him or her, then the PCBU can hold them liable.

Generally, in order for an officer and for the PCBU to guarantee that they are on the right track, they are recommended to follow these steps:

  • Commitment from the management
  • Consultation
  • Safety procedures and work practices
  • Supervision and training of employees
  • Safety reports

Whether you are an officer or a business owner, you need to make sure that these things are continuously implemented so that you can have peace of mind. Remember that this will not guarantee that no accidents or untoward incidents will occur. However, this will allow you to breathe easier knowing that you have taken all the appropriate actions to promote the safety and health of workers and other individuals who can also be affected indirectly by the different activities conducted by the organisation.

If you have a well-structured system of management, you will have all the necessary foundations that can promote compliance, and the steps mentioned earlier will serve as the framework for your overall occupational health and safety system. Many of the businesses in Australia have already begun implementing one or two of these steps but the whole system may not be as effective as what the law provides.

In order to assess if the methods which you have been doing are effective, you need to create a compliance checklist in order to find out what your rating is. Many self-assessment checklists guide businesses like what traffic lights do to motorists; they tell you what procedures you need to stop and work on, which areas you need to slow down and see what improvements you can make and the ones which say that you are moving towards the right direction.


Topics: Blog, Planning, Objectives and Legal Obligations