Paper 13 - Work Health and Safety

New occupational health and safety arrangements came into force in the ACT on 1st January 2012 when the The ACT Work Health and Safety Act 2011 came into effect.

Harmonised work health and safety laws came into effect in the ACT, NSW, Queensland, South Australia and the NT on 1st January 2012.

The ACT Work Safety Act 2008 reflected the work that had by then already been  done towards a harmonized national system.  So businesses and owners corporations complying with the Work Safety Act 2008 will find that there will be no need for any great  change in their operations to comply with the harmonised regime enacted by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

The key changes in the new system are:

Sanctions in the Act now apply to all ACT departments and authorities.

Worksafe ACT will be the only body able to initiate a prosecution for a breach of workplace safety. 

While the maximum jail term will fall from seven to five years, fines will increase significantly (see sections 27 to 34 of the Act.)

Industrial manslaughter provisions in the Crimes Act will remain unchanged. 

The new Act ensures that officers in both the public and private sectors exercise due diligence as part of their company or organisation responsibilities.

So it is necessary for owners corporations to know their work health and safety responsibilities for persons working for the owners corporation whether on common land or individual titles and to have thought about potential safety risks on their property and undertaken appropriate rectification. 

This is a topic which Michael Teys dealt with fairly concisely in his dissertation after the 2012 AGM, giving practical suggestions for things Committees should do and things to watch out for.  His lecture notes are available as a report,as well as a slide presentation and a video.

The new Act is at the ACT Legislation Register at  The Explanatory memorandum for the new Act is also there and provides an introduction to owners corporation responsibilities.

We have also gathered together several applicable  Safe Work Australia publications relevant to this topic:

Interpretive Work Health and Safety Act

Body Corporate Bodies – FAQ

Strata Title - FAQ

Strata Bodies Corporate and their Committees