SA parliament passes major WHS reforms

Amendments include enabling workers to tackle workplace safety disputes

SA parliament passes major WHS reforms

SA’s parliament has passed major work health and safety reforms that enable workers to tackle workplace safety disputes.

The Work Health and Safety (Review Recommendations) Amendment Act 2024 adopts the recommendations presented in various expert reviews aimed at bolstering workplace health and safety outcomes.

“These WHS reforms are a huge step forward for every South Australian workers' safety and

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wellbeing. It puts us on the right track to become the safest place to work and do business in the country”, SA Unions Secretary Dale Beasley said in a media release. "Coming home from work safe isn't just a priority; it's a right. These updates give workers a say in keeping themselves and their workmates safe. Built on thorough expert reviews, these common sense amendments ensure our workplaces are safer and fairer”.

Some key reforms incorporated in the Act are as follows:

  • the South Australian Employment Tribunal (SAET) has been authorised to issue practical orders on WHS matters; thus, workers can present safety disputes before the tribunal for resolution
  • employers who do not comply with SAET orders to rectify safety issues may be penalised without the ability to insure against such payouts
  • arbitrary barriers to accountability will be eliminated, and more information about safety issues will be made available to workers, victims and their families; the Act also addresses a loophole that hindered the documentation of safety hazards during inspections via photos or measurements
  • the SafeWork SA Advisory Committee has been codified, granting workers, employers, and victims' advocates a say in SafeWork SA’s decision-making process

"Until now, when workers have been faced with pressure to perform unsafe work, have had their employers fail to adequately address safety concerns at work, or had their employers knowingly put profit ahead of their safety, they and their HSR could go to SafeWork SA. But in cases where SafeWork SA have not acted, workers had nowhere else to go. This bill changes that," Beasley said.

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