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Media Release: New era for WorkSafe ACT on the horizon

October 22, 2019

Canberra’s workplace safety watchdog will enter a new era of independence, transparency and accountability under proposed legislation which will be debated in the Legislative Assembly today.

The Work Health and Safety Amendment Bill 2019 implements recommendation 21 from an independent inquiry, held in 2018, into the ACT’s work safety compliance infrastructure, policies and procedures.

Under the changes proposed, WorkSafe ACT will be established as a separate and independent entity to continue enforcing health and safety and workers' compensation laws through a mixture of education and compliance activities.

Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety, Suzanne Orr said the bill was integral to establishing an effective regulator for the Territory, ensuring transparency, scrutiny, role clarity and accountability in the exercise of the regulator’s functions.

“This Bill will establish a single accountability governance model that will support an effective regulator in the ACT and will lead to improved health and wellbeing for working Canberrans.

“This Bill is the culmination of a tremendous amount of effort and consultation with all stakeholders and it will lay the foundations to ensure that our regulator is effective into the future,” Minister Orr said.

The regulator under the work health and safety legislation not only enforces compliance with the obligations and duties applied to the private sector, it also imposes obligations on the ACT Government as an employer. For this reason, it is important that the regulator be independent in exercising its regulatory functions.

Key aspects of the legislation include:

  • A new Work Health and Safety Commissioner will be appointed to lead WorkSafe ACT. The Commissioner will be the regulator as prescribed in the amended legislation.
  • The Commissioner will enforce compliance with the obligations and duties applied to both the private sector and the ACT Government as employers.
  • To support its independence in carrying out these functions, WorkSafe ACT and the Commissioner will be independent entities when carrying out the regulatory functions under the work health and safety legislation.

The ACT Government is committed to continually improving the health and safety of Canberra’s workers. The new governance model is consistent with the model recommended by the 2018 independent review to best achieve independence and role clarity of the regulator.

Statement ends