Safety leaders support uniform OHS

Tuesday, 31 October, 2006

Australia's politicians are being urged to "stop playing games" and work together for consistent OHS laws by workplace safety professionals.

A recent national survey of members by the Safety Institute of Australia found that 88% of respondents supported a single federal OHS legislative system.

SIA Victorian president, Phil Lovelock told Safety Solutions that the SIA doesn't support one government group over another, but that "our members favour uniform laws and we believe this is because nine OHS Acts, regulations and codes of practice are seen as burdensome".

He believes the current state and territory regimes have stymied the efforts of employers and safety suppliers to improve workplace safety. "What saves lives in one state will also save lives in another," he said.

State and territory representatives met as recently as last week, agreeing to further harmonisation of OHS laws, but the SIA remains skeptical as to the success of the project in light of the collapse of talks a couple of months ago.

"There's been talk of harmonisation for more than a decade, beginning with efforts by the former National Occupational Health and Safety Council," Lovelock said.

"The NOHSC's replacement, the ASCC, has now taken up the challenge, but while you have stunts like walkouts by the states, we're not hopeful that they're truly committed to change."

Lovelock recommends ongoing consultation to achieve the National OHS Strategy which the ASCC and the states have already signed off on.

"The SIA believes that in achieving this strategy, governments need to be consulting with safety practitioners, in addition to the standard OHS legislative stakeholders," he said.

The SIA Safety Report Card research will be presented at the Safety in Action conference in March 2007.

Wendy Cramer, Editor

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