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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Education and Industrial Relations
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Queensland leads way in workplace safety reforms

    Education and Industrial Relations
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    Queensland leads way in workplace safety reforms

    The Bligh Government’s commitment to worker safety has been further demonstrated with the passing of new laws that continue to provide strong protections for workers while reducing red tape for businesses.

    Industrial Relations Minister Cameron Dick said the Queensland Parliament today became the first in the nation to pass the Work Health and Safety Bill – a significant milestone in a three-year national reform agenda.

    “The new Work Health and Safety Act 2011 is a win for both Queensland workers and businesses,” Mr Dick said.

    “These laws – which have been the subject of extensive consultation over the past three years – will remove confusion and complexity caused by Australia’s multiple workplace laws and form part of the national reforms that will result in harmonised workplace laws across Australia.

    “The laws broaden the definition of ‘worker’ to include labour hire, contractors and subcontractors, and imposes the onus of proof on the regulator to prove an offence.

    “The legislation enables the courts to impose significantly higher penalties for breaches of the Act.

    “Ultimately, this is about making it simpler for employers to keep their workplaces safe while continuing to provide protection for workers.”

    Mr Dick said the new laws would reduce red-tape for business saving Queensland’s economy more than $30 million a year.

    “The new legislation combats the confusion, complexity and duplication caused by Australia’s multiple workplace health and safety regimes and replaces the Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995,” he said.

    “The laws balance the need for simplified business practices without impacting on workers’ rights.”

    Mr Dick said the State Government also passed the Safety in Recreational Water Activities Bill 2011 to ensure Queensland’s diving and snorkelling industries were covered by safety legislation.

    “The dive industry is a significant contributor to the economy in Queensland and it is important that people who want to dive can do so in the safest possible environment,” he said.

    “Diving is not included in the national model Work Health and Safety Bill so this new legislation has been passed to ensure the strict safety standards in Queensland’s diving industry are maintained.

    “The dive industry is one in which we certainly cannot tolerate cowboys and the Safety in Recreational Water Activities Legislation 2011 will help to ensure unscrupulous operators don’t spoil it for the hundreds of high-quality dive operators in Queensland.

    “We want to protect our industry and set the safety standards for rest of the world and this legislation will help ensure this is possible.

    “The legislation and code of practice, which have been developed collaboratively with the industry, will help establish a level playing field.

    “The legislation places a duty of care on dive shop operators and providers to ensure the safety of their customers.

    “It also introduces reporting requirements for ‘notifiable incidents’ such as serious illness, injury or death which will help operators better monitor the industry.”

    The new national model Work Health and Safety Bill was developed in consultation with industry, unions, all states and territories and the general public.

    Mr Dick said the Work Health and Safety Legislation 2011 includes changes to various pieces of workplace health and safety legislation.

    It also amends the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 to provide for a review of the workers’ compensation scheme every five years, to strengthen insurance and data collection arrangements in the construction industry, and to protect workers’ entitlements to accrue leave entitlements while on workers’ compensation.

    Media contact: Minister for Education and Industrial Relations 3237 1072