Australia: Government to Review Occupational Safety Laws

Australia's Department of Employment and Workplace Relations will review the commonwealth's occupational safety and health laws in an effort to see if they need to be amended to keep up to date with the current demands of the workplace.

"The review strongly reflects the Australian government's commitment to improving workplace safety with an emphasis on cooperation at the individual workplace level," Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Kevin Andrews said.

The Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1991 referred to by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations as the OHS(CE) Act covers employees working in commonwealth departments, statutory authorities and government business enterprises. The Australian Parliament currently is considering a bill that would extend the act to private-sector corporations if they obtain workers' compensation coverage.

The review "will examine whether amendments could be made to ensure that the OHS(CE) Act not only remains focused on preventing workplace injuries but also remains contemporary and able to meet the needs of employers and employees at the enterprise level," according to the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.

For stakeholders who wish to submit comments, the agency has released an issues paper, which is available on the department's Web site at http://www.dewr.gov.au. Submissions should be forwarded to the Safety and Compensation Policy Branch, Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, GPO Box 9879, Canberra, ACT, 2601 or by e-mail to [email protected] by April 30. All submissions will be treated confidentially.

The agency expects to finish the review by the end of May.

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