On 25 February 2019, the Report of the first national review of Australia’s model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws was released. The Report which was prepared by former executive director of SafeWork South Australia, Marie Boland, notes that the regulatory scheme under the model laws is largely operating as intended. However, it identifies areas for improvement and makes 34 recommendations for reform. These include the introduction of an industrial manslaughter offence and some adaptation of the duty-holder principles under the model laws to various modern work arrangements.
The model WHS laws aim to provide for a harmonised approach to WHS regulation across Australia. They were developed following the establishment of Safe Work Australia, the statutory body tasked with undertaking a National Review of WHS laws in 2008. The model WHS laws were implemented by all jurisdictions, except for Victoria and Western Australia, between 2012 and 2013.1 However, Victoria may soon be the only jurisdiction not to have adopted the model WHS laws, as the Western Australian government has recently engaged in consultation regarding new legislation to be based on the model WHS Act.2
In 2018, at the request of the federal and state Ministers responsible for WHS, Ms Boland reviewed the content and operation of the model WHS laws (including the model WHS Act, WHS Regulations and Codes of Practice). Ms Boland’s Report followed extensive consultation with stakeholders, and is the first comprehensive review of the model WHS laws since their implementation.3