16 April 2009

The Seamless Economy Regulatory Project - Occupational Health and Safety

On 3 July 2008 an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) was signed, which records a COAG agreement to introduce harmonised occupational health and safety laws.

It is proposed to implement harmonised OHS laws through the model legislation method, where a model principal Act supported by model OHS regulations and model codes of practice will be prepared.

Each jurisdiction would then give effect to the laws in as uniform a manner possible after having regard to the drafting protocols in each jurisdiction.

Unlike other national schemes, this agreement anticipates a capacity for some differences between states and territories.

Paragraph 5.1.8 of the Agreement says:

The adoption and implementation of model OHS legislation is not intended to prevent jurisdictions from enacting or otherwise giving effect to additional provisions, provided these do not materially affect the operation of the model legislation, for example, by providing for a consultative mechanism within a jurisdiction.
And so, in this case legislation will be uniform….unless it isn’t.

The Workforce Ministers Ministerial Council have agreed to resolve outstanding policy issues by May 2009, prior to the publication of an exposure draft in August.

There is no particular indication as to what policy issues are ‘outstanding’ between the jurisdictions.

The next article looks at the proposed national licensing scheme for specified professions.

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