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News 16 January 2020

OHS Standards Accredited? So What!

So, your business is accredited to AS4801: 2001, OHSAS 18001: 2007 or AS/NZS ISO 45001. Good on you, its worth spending the time, effort and money putting an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) or Work Health and Safety (WHS) Management System in place. But, are you compliant with current Victorian OHS legislation?

This year will see Workplace Manslaughter laws commence in Victoria, the third jurisdiction in Australia to put these laws in place. The changes to the OHS Act 2004 will take place on a day to be proclaimed or, at the latest, 1 July 2020. An issue for all businesses and officers is that negligent conduct prior to the commencement of these laws may still be pertinent for the purposes of prosecution if the business fails to amend unsafe workplace procedures and practices and a workplace fatality occurs.

Bodies corporate, partnerships, unincorporated bodies and unincorporated associations, self-employed persons and officers may all fall foul of the new Workplace Manslaughter laws. Further, these new laws come with the highest penalty for a breach of OHS/WHS legislation in the country with maximum fines of over $16.5m for employers and jail terms of up to 20 years and maximum fines of over $1.65m for officers. Can you afford prosecution?

If OHS Standards accreditation is not good enough, what is?

If you have an accredited OHSMS or you have a system that is not accredited but is internally audited, then you’ve made a good start. If you don’t, then now is the time to put them in place.

To achieve compliance with the OHS Act 2004 and the OHS Regulations 2007 it is important to have in place a good safety culture. You must ensure that you have adequate OHS systems, instruction, training and supervision in place along with a strong focus on communication and consultation with workers.

To ensure you have a strong safety culture, in conjunction with your workers, you need to:

  • ensure good top-down and bottom-up communication and accountability. The Executive and Senior Management must walk the talk;
  • make sure you know the unknowns by constantly reviewing all hazards and associated risks in the workplace, including mental health;
  • review all safety systems and controls you currently have in place to ensure they are working as planned and are fully effective;
  • review all existing OHS policies and procedures, including the unwritten ones, to ensure they lead to compliance, are up to date and are being followed;
  • ensure managers and supervisors are reinforcing safe work procedures (SWP), Job Safety Analyses (JSA) and Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) to make sure workers are following documented processes and that any unauthorised conduct does not occur;
  • make directors, senior officers and managers fully aware of the employer’s duties under OHS legislation as well as their responsibilities and accountabilities through awareness and education programmes;
  • ensure workers report all near misses, incidents and accidents and that these are appropriately investigated;
  • foster and encourage reporting by workers, even when they have done something wrong. Use a no blame approach and consult with them to find ways to ensure these incidents don’t re-occur;
  • ensure action is taken following a near miss, incident or accident to eliminate, or at least, mitigate future risk; and
  • provide timely reports to Senior Management and the Board of Directors which includes the bad news as well as the good news.

How we can assist

The Victorian Chamber’s Health, Safety and Wellbeing team of Consultants are highly qualified and experienced in assisting with legislative compliance and/or accreditation to AS/NZS ISO 45001 (the current OHSMS Standard).

For more information and support, please contact us on 03 8662 5333 or email hsw@victorianchamber.com.au to discuss your needs.

Media Contact

All media enquiries may be directed to the Media and Communications Manager

03 8662 5310

0423 883 945


For all other enquiries please contact the Victorian Chamber on 03 8662 5333

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