New work health and safety legislation recently introduced in the ACT government Legislative Assembly will mean major construction sites will have to have more worker training and consultation.
The Work Health and Safety Amendment Bill 2018 involves construction projects over $5 million requiring employers to establish work groups in consultation with unions. They will also have to arrange for the election of Health and Safety Representatives, establishment of a health and safety committee and ensure committee members have been appropriately trained.
Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations, Rachel Stephen-Smith recently said the ACT government understood the importance of union representatives in supporting workers to ensure a safer workplace.
“The ACT Government knows that a workplace where workers are supported by union representatives is a safer workplace and will continue to support initiatives that strengthen unions’ critical role in workplace health and safety,” the minister said.
The minister went on to highlight the government’s commitment to continuously improving standards of workplace health and safety in the ACT and promoting the highest possible standards by raising the standard of communication and consultation on the health and safety issue in the industry.
“Workers should be given the highest level of protection against harm to their health, safety, and welfare from hazards and risks arising from work.
“The amendments go above and beyond what is provided for in the national harmonised WHS laws to raise the standard of communication and consultation on health and safety in the construction industry.
Stephen-Smith said the new proposed legislation was developed in response to a review in 2017 conducted by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). The review found that health and safety culture could be improved with more meaningful consultation with workers on workplace safety.
“Empowering workers and their representatives to have a stronger say on workplace health and safety issues and providing more training to health and safety representatives and committees will help drive improvements in the culture of safety on ACT construction sites.”
Over the coming months, the new legislation will be debated and is expected to take effect on January 1st, 2019.
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