Australian Governments finalize historic standardization of nationwide OHS regulations

In an effort to reduce incidences of work-related death, injury, and illness across the country, the Council of Australian Governments recently began to enact the harmonisation of work health and safety (WHS) laws, ratified in July 2008 with the signing of the Intergovernmental Agreement for Regulatory and Operational Reform in OHS. The move represents a significant departure from the former scenario in which all states, territories and the Commonwealth at large had been responsible for defining and enforcing their own health and safety laws which, although similar to one another, featured significant differences in their application and detail.

In response to industry calls for greater national consistency, currently half of the Commonwealth states and territories (with Western Australia and Victoria as the notable exceptions at the moment) have begun to implement the nationally harmonized WHS legislation, which took effect on January 1, 2012. The harmonization model calls for the Commonwealth as well as all states and territories to begin enforcing the model laws.

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