Commencement of further changes to QLD’s Work Health and Safety Laws

Following the highly publicised workplace incidents at Dreamworld and the Eagle Farm racecourse, which tragically involved multiple fatalities, late last year the Queensland Government passed the Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2017 (Amendment Act), which most notably created the new offence of industrial manslaughter.

In addition to the provisions relating to industrial manslaughter, which have already commenced, the Amendment Act also included several important amendments that commenced on 1 July 2018, including:

  1. A requirement that a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), must either:
  • comply with an approved Code of Practice under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011(Qld) (WH&S Act); or
  • implement a different method to manage hazards or risks that provides an equivalent or higher safety standard than the relevant Code of Practice.
  1. An obligation on all PCBUs to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, a health and safety representative has completed the following training:
  • an initial five day training course within six months of being elected to the role; and
  • a 1 day refresher training course at least every three years.
  1. An ability for a PCBU to appoint a Work Health and Safety Officer (WHSO), which may be used as evidence that the PCBU has complied with its duties under the WH&S Act. If a WHSO is appointed, the Amendment Act sets out a number rights and responsibilities in relation to the WHSO and the PCBU, including the requirement for a PCBU to display a current list of WHSOs for the workplace.
  2. An amendment to the power to require the production of documents and answers to questions, that will now allow an inspector or another inspector to exercise the following powers if an inspector has entered a workplace within the last 30 days:
  • require a person to tell the inspector who has custody of, or access to, a document, within this timeframe;
  • require a person who has custody of, or access to, a document mentioned in paragraph (a) to give a document to the inspector, within this timeframe; and
  • require a person to meet with the inspector at a reasonable time and place (i.e. outside the workplace) to answer questions put by the inspector, within this timeframe.

What should you do?

We recommend that:

  1. You ensure you are familiar with the applicable Codes of Practice (as amended), and that these are the minimum safety standards maintained. Most of the Codes of Practice have already been approved and updated, as at 1 July 2018, and can be found here.
  2. PCBUs ensure that health and safety representatives have completed the required training.
  3. PCBUs consider appointing a WHSO.
  4. You ensure you are familiar with an inspector’s increased powers to require the production of documents and answers to questions, within 30 days after entering a workplace.

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader’s specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.

Key contacts:

Jay Hatten – Senior Associate
Christopher Rowden – Principal


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