Work health and safety

New occupational health and safety arrangements came into force in the ACT on 1st January 2012 when the ACT
Work Health and Safety Act 2011 came into effect. Harmonised work health and safety laws came into effect in the ACT, NSW, Queensland, South Australia and the NT on 1st January 2012.

The ACT Work Safety Act 2008  reflected the work that had by then already been done towards a harmonized national system. Businesses and Owners Corporations (OC's) complying with the Work Safety Act 2008 will find that there will be no need for any great change in their operations to comply with the harmonised regime enacted by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

The key changes in the new system are:

  • Sanctions in the Act now apply to all ACT departments and authorities.
  • Worksafe ACT will be the only body able to initiate a prosecution for a breach of workplace safety. 
  • While the maximum jail term will fall from seven to five years, fines will increase significantly (see sections 27 to 34 of the Act.)
  • Industrial manslaughter provisions in the Crimes Act will remain unchanged. 
  • The new Act ensures that officers in both the public and private sectors exercise due diligence as part of their company or organisation responsibilities.

It is necessary for OC's to know their work health and safety responsibilities for persons working for the OC whether on common land or individual titles, and to have thought about potential safety risks on their property and undertaken appropriate rectification. 

The new Act is at the ACT Legislation Register. The explanatory memorandum for the new Act is also there and provides an introduction to OC responsibilities.

We have also gathered together several applicable Safe Work Australia publications relevant to this topic: