Employer groups have welcomed the introduction of a new national occupational health and safety regime (OH&S) will which provide great benefits to employers, in particular small business owners, as they would be less likely to face fines or jail under OH&S laws.
Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout has welcomed some of the changes which include provisions that qualify employer duty so they will be required to do what is “reasonably practical” to provide a safe workplace, and the removal of an ability for unions to prosecute businesses for breaches of OH&S laws.
“While businesses will continue to have difficulties with some of the recommendations, we need to move forward on this, and the sooner we see the draft legislation to create a national OH&S system the better.”
John Colvin, chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company directors has also welcomed the new regime claiming that while he does not agree with every aspect, the “model national law moves Australia a long way towards an OH&S system that is fair, balanced and consistent.”
Business Council of Australia chief executive Katie Lahey said the global crisis has heightened the need for a national OH&S model.
Other measures include a requirement that the prosecution should bear the onus of proof in alleged safety breaches, and a system of appeals against a finding of guilt in a prosecution.