Senate supports Greens call for new OHS laws to set high standards

Monday, 29 March, 2010

The Senate has backed an Australian Greens motion calling on the government to ensure there is no reduction in occupational health and safety standards anywhere in the nation in implementing their new laws.

“Workers, unions and the community are concerned that the government’s OHS harmonisation agenda will mean lower safety standards rather than the highest possible we should be pursuing,” said Senator Rachel Siewert. “The government must guarantee no reduction in standards in any workplace. With over 150 work-related fatalities last year, an increase of around 14%, there is no excuse for lowering the bar.

“The active involvement of employees and their representatives in workplace safety has been shown to be essential to establishing high standards of health and safety in workplaces. We will be very concerned if the rights of employees and their representatives are compromised in these new laws.

“All workers have the right to safe and healthy workplaces and to return home from work in the same health they left.”

The motion stated that the Senate:

  1. Recognises that there were over 150 work-related fatalities in Australia in 2008-2009, an increase of 14% over the previous year;
  2. Acknowledges the right of all workers to a safe and healthy workplace;
  3. Notes that the government is planning to harmonise occupational health and safety laws across the nation; and
  4. Calls on the government to ensure that the harmonised occupational health and safety laws will not reduce standards of occupational health and safety in any workplaces or weaken the rights of employees and their representatives with respect to occupational health and safety regulation.
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