Changes to the (NSW) Workplace Health & Safety Act

Every individual in the brewery industry has a crucial role in achieving a safe workplace. You owe it to yourself, those close to you and your colleagues not to expose yourself to unnecessary risks at work. You can protect yourself and others from hazards and hazardous situations, by following safe work procedures and by adopting safe work behaviours. The WHS Act describes what is required under the law to ensure a safe and healthy workplace.

However, the Work Health and Safety Amendment (Review) Bill 2020 (NSW) passed through the NSW Upper House on 4th June 2020 and was assented to (became law) on 10th June 2020. This Bill introduced a raft of new amendments to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) (WHS Act) and Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 (NSW).

SO HOW DOES THIS EFFECT YOU?

The Bill means that penalties have been significantly increase under the act for Category 1, 2 and 3 Offences and these penalties are indexed annually with CPI, however there is one particularly and significant change for business owners and that is the inclusion of a new offence for entering into, providing or benefiting from either insurance or any other indemnity arrangement in relation to the payment a penalties/fine incurred under the Act.

Ultimately this means you can no longer purchase an insurance policy to cover fines arising from a WHS prosecution, however it also means an employer cannot enter into an arrangement with their employees to cover fines incurred by a worker or any other party that is prosecuted under the Act.

The changes go further to make it an offence as an officer of the company to aid, abet , counsel, induce or commission insurance or any other indemnity arrangements to cover penalties under the Act, this may capture those indirectly involved in the establishment of these arrangements.

Insurance policies can still be purchased to provide cover for legal and other defence costs.

Another change introduced by the Bill included the broadening of a Category 1 offence under the Act to “gross negligence” as a fault element. This when combined with the element of recklessness captures more parties in a business to create a stronger onus for duty holders to manage their Workplace Health and Safety risks. You can review all the changes in the legislation here.

WHAT TO DO NEXT?

We would encourage you to seek advice on the appropriateness of your insurance arrangements.

Victual understand that every business is unique, and we can assist you in interpreting the risks associated with your brewery and around these changes to ensure your obligations are being met.

Ultimately, your best defence will be a proactive approach to safety.  If you need help to take your safety from reactive to proactive, please contact us here.