Several changes were made to the WHS Act last week, which will affect all employers in the way they conduct their business. The amendments will also help to improve compliance and enforcement measures for WHS Regulators, making workers and business owners healthier, safer, more productive, as well as safeguard public safety.

    First, in a fundamental change for NSW, employers may now be recorded visually or by sound when they are interviewed by a WHS inspector – even without the consent of the interviewee. However, the interviewee must be notified that they are being recorded before an interview takes place. This new law requiring interviews to be recorded hopes to reduce the scope for dispute.

    In addition, NSW WHS Regulators can now conduct investigations on a cross-border basis after extra-territorial powers were granted. This new law aims to reduce disputes when investigators are enquiring about a workplace incident, for example. There are a significant number of businesses that operate in several States and Territories and WHS regulators needed extra-territorial powers to facilitate their work.

    In response to an increase in the number of fall-related incidents, on-the-spot fines for contravention of fall-related emergency procedures will be applied. Businesses now face a fine of $3,600 for disobeying procedure and individuals may be fined $720.
    Finally, among the total of six changes to the WHS Act, the NSW Centre for Work, Health and Safety has also started work on developing options to strengthen tripartite consultation in NSW.

    The above changes were made to the WHS Act to reflect recommendations from the NSW Work Health and Safety Act 2011 Statutory Review Report.

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