An independent reviewer has been appointed to audit work health and safety laws for the Queensland Government.
Tim Lyons will examine the laws, procedures and policing, with findings to be delivered in the middle of 2017.
These safety audits were prompted by a tragic series of workplace incidents in 2016.
“After last year’s tragedies at Eagle Farm and Dreamworld, concerns were raised about the public safety matters in Queensland and the effectiveness of current offences and penalties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011,” said Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace.
“Two workers were crushed to death at Eagle Farm and four people lost their lives at a popular theme park due to a catastrophic failure of an amusement ride. We owe it to the families not only to find out exactly what happened, but to make sure it never happens again.”
The best practice audit will consider whether an offence of ‘gross negligence causing death’ and an increase in the current penalty levels as a stronger deterrent for non-compliance should be introduced.
At the moment, employers can be prosecuted for negligence, which carries maximum penalties of five years’ imprisonment and fines of up to $3 million for corporations, $600,000 for individual directors and $300,000 for others.
The terms of reference for this best practice review also ask Lyons to consider WHSQ’s effectiveness in light of contemporary regulatory practice. The scope includes all of WHSQ’s functions — inspections, investigations, prosecutions, enforceable undertakings, research, strategy and policy development, information and education and awareness campaigns.
Tim Lyons has more than 20 years’ experience in industrial relations, having worked as an organiser, advocate, policy specialist and senior leader. He spent 14 years with the National Union of Workers and was the Assistant Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions for seven years. He has also been a member of federal government boards and expert working groups on workplace relations, taxation, superannuation, procurement and industry policy. Tim was also appointed as an industrial relations expert to the 2015 Industrial Relations Legislative Reform Reference Group.
“Tim will be supported by a tripartite reference group which will include two technical experts and representatives from key organisations such as the Australian Industry Group, Master Builders Queensland, the Queensland Council of Unions, the Australian Workers Union and the Queensland Tourism Industry Council,” Grace said.
“There will also be input from other government agencies and interested groups.”
The findings and recommendations will be presented to the government by the middle of the year.
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