Posted by Robert Cooper on Jan 28 2013
Are you dealing with WHS changes?
Unfortunately many organisations in Australia are unaware of their obligations
under the latest workplace health and safety (WHS) laws. Some have chosen not to invest in compliance management. Their excuse is similar to the reasons some organisations do not take out insurance because “it will never happen to them”.
The WHS laws are being implemented and enforced in most Australian jurisdictions
(including Queensland). Those States not yet signed up are planning to introduce them shortly or still giving strong commitment to their principles.
One of the key features of the new WHS laws which you should take note of is the move away from the employment relationship. The laws now dictate that a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU), owes the primary duty of care to each of its ‘workers’. This means not just an employer, but also a Principal engaging contractors.
Therefore the term ‘worker’ is no longer limited to just employees. It also includes contractors and subcontractors and their employees. The new WHS laws introduce a positive duty on officers to exercise due diligence in ensuring their businesses or undertaking complies with the laws. A breach of the duty can result in criminal
prosecution and significant individual penalties of up to $600,000 and/or five years imprisonment.
To assist in preventing a breach of these laws, you need to be prepared to demonstrate to an inspector how you are discharging your duty of care. This includes how your organisation is making sure your workers, including contractors and subcontractors, are safe.
This new definition of “worker” is placing directors and company officers at risk. Organisations have not factored in the cost or allocated resources trying to track thousands of documents using old fashioned methods. They are unable to keep up with the multiple changes in legislation and company policies which require them to track and manage even more certificates.
To assess how your organisation is performing under the new WHS laws, Directors should ask management before your next board meeting for a report within a specific time frame of no more than one day on supplier compliance that provides:
1. A list of all certificates being tracked: public liability insurance, workers compensation, trade and high-risk work licences and so on.
2. A compliance rating of each supplier. Are all its certificates current and up to date?
3. A policy compliance of every supplier. Do all suppliers match or exceed your internal policies?
4. A list of non-compliant suppliers detailing expired and missing certificates.
The follow up on the report by asking the following questions:
1. How often do we audit supplier compliance? Monthly auditing is suggested as the most appropriate frequency of auditing, since it allows an enterprise to produce an accurate gauge of compliance.
2. What is the total number of certificates that we collect and track?
3. What systems and process do we have for tracking supplier compliance?
4. How long did the report take to compile? If it was going to take more than half a day, how long do you think it would have taken to complete?