COMPANIES should prepare for new safety laws making all executive officers legally liable for the safety of staff, the business community has warned.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) describes the legislation, which comes into effect on January 1, as the ‘most significant shake-up of workplace health and safety laws in decades’.
CCIQ Safety senior workplace health and safety consultant Jamen Wilcox says the rule transfers the role of workplace health and safety officer to managers and owners.
“Just as managers and owners manage the finances or operations, they’ll now be obliged to actively manage the health and safety risks of their business, too,” he says.
“The key to surviving the new legislation is to start now with a workplace audit and action plan, supported by training to ensure your managers understand what safety standards they are obliged to uphold.”
Fines of up to $3 million apply, if a Workplace Health and Safety Queensland audit determines a business has failed to implement adequate safety plans. Executive officers can be fined up to $600,000 and face as much as five years in jail.
Businesses will also have to monitor workplace conditions, health, discrimination and coercive or misleading conduct in relation to safety.
Wilcox says small business owners need to take notice as bullying, harassment and manual handling injuries are considered serious safety breaches under the new legislation.
“While the new laws focused on giving greater certainty and uniformity across Australia, they also bring with it the cost and time needed to implement procedures, policies and plans,” he says.
“By starting now, two months before the laws come into effect, business owners can be better prepared.”
CCIQ is organising training courses for directors, CEOs and managers to prepare for the changes as part of Safe Work Week.
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