A Safe Workplace
The new Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws have changed the way work, health and safety is managed in the workplace.
- Greater exposure for Directors and Managers (Officers)
The reforms have implications for all company directors and managers (“Officers”) who are now subject to new compliance obligations. These obligations are now applicable to all ‘officers’ as defined under Section 9 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth):
“a director or secretary of the corporation; or a person who makes, or participates in making, decisions that affect the whole, or a substantial part, of the business of the corporation;…”
This definition also applies to receivers, managers, administrators, liquidators and trustees.
- Greater penalties
There has been a significant change to the regulation of workplace safety in Australia, including risk of prosecution and severe penalties for those who do not comply.
Personal Assets are now at risk.
Penalties for category 1 and category 2 offences can be imposed for exposure of a person to a risk – there is no requirement for death, serious injury or illness to have actually occurred.
- The new legislation requires that officers must take a pro-active approach to work health & safety and exercise due diligence, which includes:
- Understanding the nature of operations and the associated hazards and risks
- Verifying that risks and hazards are being appropriately controlled
- Ensuring that appropriate resources and processes are available to work safely
- Ensuring that processes are in place to receive and review pertinent information (incidents, hazards, risks) and respond in a timely manner
- Ensuring that knowledge of WHS laws and compliance requirements is up to date
- Verifying the implementation of those processes through regular audits and verifying legal compliance.