A Quick Glance at the Change in Australia's Safety Laws and Liabilities
The Australian Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) law recently underwent a series of changes, violations of which
could result in fines of up to $600,000 and/or imprisonment of up to five years for corporate as well as individual
executives. These changes came into effect in January 2012 in New South Wales, Queensland, the Commonwealth,
the Australia Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
The amendments to OH&S laws that Senior Managers and Directors need to be aware of are as follows:
1. The "Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking" (PCBU) is the primary OHS duty holder and not
the `employer'. A PCBU can be an individual or a corporation and can operate a business or undertaking alone or
jointly with other PCBUs.
2. The `duty of care' has been extended to include a larger group of people which now includes all "workers"
and "any other person" who has been put at risk by the business activities of the PCBU. This term 'worker' could
include an employee or even a volunteer. This also indicates that activities that earlier may have been prosecuted
under public liability laws and negligence can be actionable under OHS.
3. Officers (Directors and managers) are under personal obligation to do their due diligence to ensure that
the organization is compliant with the new OHS rules. As per the legislation due diligence is defined as taking
reasonable steps to:
Obtain and maintain up to date safety knowledge
Get an up to date understanding of business risks
Provide and use appropriate resources
Consider incidents, hazards and risks
Ensure legal compliance
Verify compliance with safety standards and ensure legal compliance by undertaking the necessary audit
and review process.
4. Duty holders (in case more than one person is responsible for OHS law compliance, then simultaneously each
duty holder) of OHS must, so far as is reasonably practicable, consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with all
other persons who have a similar duty related to OHS and also ensure that policies and procedures for compliance
are in place.
Corporate Governance - Organization-wide OHS Compliance
With the new compliance requirements of the Australian Occupational Health & Safety law it is advisable for
organizations to conduct an audit of existing processes, policies, contracts and identify steps to comply with the
new regulations. Specifically, rules related to personal liability needs to be explained to all officers that come under
the purview of this law. Implementing an organization -wide due diligence process is advisable in order to ensure
all the duty holders meet the compliance requirements.
To ensure that your international business expansion is free of any obvious hurdles and risks are minimal,
organizations need the guidance of experts who have up to date knowledge of all the international laws. Get the
best assistance from a service provider in all areas of business that include sas compliance, eu vat rules, regulatory
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