UnionsACT Submission to the Independent Review into Work Safety

Although UnionsACT did not called for it, we welcome the establishment of an independent review into work safety in the ACT. UnionsACT has campaigned for a stronger, better resourced work safety authority for a number of years, recently through our Weaksafe campaign

An independent examination of the Access Canberra/WorkSafe ACT’s work safety compliance and enforcement infrastructure, policies and procedures will no doubt find the regulator has manifestly failed to keep workers safe in the ACT. Further, we expect that the independent review will find that the structure of the regulator is out of date and ill suited to modern practice for workplace safety regulation.

UnionsACT has recommended the following:

  1. The creation of a dedicated, stand-alone and statutorily independent WHS authority that is free from the conflicts currently created through co-location within Access Canberra.
  2. The abolition of the position of Work Safety Commissioner. UnionsACT regards the position to be anachronistic and to serve no practical purpose. The functions of the Commissioner should be merged into the CEO of the WHS Authority.
  3. That WorkSafe structurally distinguish the functions of education and inspection. This would ensure that the role of the regulator in increasing awareness amongst PCBUs about their obligations was performed by staff with a specialisation in awareness raising and education.
  4. That Work Safe ACT be allowed to consider and adopt alternative approaches to compliance and enforcement.
  5. That the WHS Act be amended to allow for third-party prosecutions.

Download the full submission here (pdf).