What are the changes?
The Occupational Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2021 (the Act) amends the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act), Dangerous Goods Act 1985 (DG Act), Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 (WIRC Act) and the Equipment (Public Safety) Act 1994 (EPS Act) to:
- provide additional rights and protections for labour hire workers under the OHS Act
- prohibit businesses from using insurance or indemnity arrangements to avoid liability to pay monetary penalties for offences under certain Acts and Regulations administered by WorkSafe
- streamline provisions for electronic delivery of certain notices and reports, and allow infringement notices to be served electronically
- give authorised representatives of registered employee associations (ARREOs) and health and safety representatives (HSRs) additional powers to take photos or measurements or make sketches or recordings when they are exercising their functions under the OHS Act
- simplify procedures for disposing of or destroying property which has been seized by WorkSafe, where the owner of the property does not want or need the property returned
- Changes to labour hire arrangements
- Prohibition of certain insurance and indemnity arrangements
- Electronic delivery of notices and reports
- ARREO and HSR powers to take photos, measurements, and make sketches and recordings
- Return, disposal and destruction of seized items
When do the proposed amendments take effect
All amendments came into effect on Wednesday 22 September 2021, except for:
- the labour hire provisions; and
- the new offences relating to the prohibition on certain insurance and indemnities
The amendments relating to labour hire will commence on Tuesday 22 March 2022. This is intended to give businesses six months to adapt to the new law. It will also give WorkSafe time to amend its processes and develop guidance.
The prohibition on contractual terms purporting to insure or indemnify a person against their liability to pay a monetary penalty under the OHS Act, DG Act or EPS Act commenced on Wednesday 22 September 2021.
The prohibition applies to existing insurance and indemnity contracts. However, the offences relating to entering, offering, holding and paying or receiving a benefit under prohibited insurance or indemnity contracts will not commence until Thursday 22 September 2022. This means that prohibited terms in contracts or other arrangements of insurance or indemnity will be void from Wednesday 22 September 2021 and no benefit can be claimed or provided under such a policy. However, a person cannot be charged with an offence until Thursday 22 September 2022.