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Safe Work Australia to propose new laws for notifying psychosocial incidents

10 August 2023

2 min read

#Workplace Relations & Safety

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Safe Work Australia to propose new laws for notifying psychosocial incidents

Safe Work Australia has recently called for stakeholder feedback on proposed changes to notification requirements under the Work Health and Safety Act (WHS Act), following the recommendations of the original Boland Review of WHS laws in 2018 (Review).

A consistent view expressed in the consultation process conducted by the Review was that the incident notification provisions need to be clearer and capture all relevant incidents. The report, prepared following the Review, noted that the “most common concern was the lack of express notification triggers for psychological injuries.” There was said to be confusion about whether psychological health issues needed to be notified and if so, when. It was suggested that adding a notification trigger for psychological injury might assist.

The safety regulators themselves provided feedback about this lack of clarity and while they agreed that improved guidance for a person conducting a business of undertaking (PCBU) would assist, there was also a view that provisions in the model WHS Act should be revised to address ambiguities.

As a result, Safe Work Australia undertook a review of the provisions in the model WHS Act and WHS Regulations, with a particular focus on psychosocial hazards. Since then, new psychosocial risk regulations have been introduced into the model WHS Regulations and enacted in a number of jurisdictions.

Consultation paper

Safe Work Australia has moved to the next stage and issued a consultation paper which looks at various options available to improve the notification provisions. The consultation paper is said to explore:

“..options involving batched, periodic reporting (rather than immediate notification) for certain incidents that do not require immediate investigation or response by the WHS regulator. This approach would allow WHS regulators to identify both PCBUs where prevalence of these incidents is higher and PCBUs who may fail to report, and investigate the systems the PCBU has in place to protect workers (rather than the circumstances of an individual incident).

A range of options to address specific gaps and ambiguities in the incident notification framework are also explored, as well as opportunities to improve the guidance materials for PCBUs to support improved understanding and compliance with the requirements”.

[Update: Submissions to Safe Work Australia’s online consultation platform closed on 11 September 2023] 

If you have any questions about the consultation paper or provisions under the model WHS Act and WHS Regulations, please get in touch with a member of our team below.

  • This article was originally published in the Health & Safety Handbook by Portner Press. 

The information in this article is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this article is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.

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