The 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"
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.
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-
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.
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