SG: What approach is the regulator taking to the enforcement of the new HSW Act as it beds in over the first 6 months?
MH: WorkSafe has been taking a balanced approach since the new Health & Safety at Work Act (HSWA) was introduced on 4 April this year:
- Where there is a health and safety situation or issue that a business should already have been complying with under the Health & Safety in Employment Action 1992, WorkSafe’s regulatory approach will not change.
- For those for duties that are significantly modified or new under HSWA, WorkSafe has been taking a predominantly educative approach since 4 April to help businesses, duty holders and workers understand what is required of them.
- Some five months in, we will increasingly expect to see evidence that duty holders have plans in place, or are working towards such plans to meet their new duties.
- WorkSafe’s enforcement approach remains proportional to the level of risk or harm presented.
SG: The new HSW Act has more extensive provisions for enforceable undertakings as an alternative enforcement measure to prosecutions. What kind of undertakings does WorkSafe anticipate using?
MH: An enforceable undertaking is a commitment by a dutyholder to address a failure to comply with the law. This is a potentially powerful tool for a regulator, though as with any enforcement tool, it must be used appropriately. WorkSafe will shortly publish its Enforceable Undertaking Policy which will clarify for the regulated community the circumstances in which an undertaking may, or may not, be accepted by the Regulator and what it should contain.
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