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Australian Government Solicitor

 

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New Work Health and Safety Act implications

During 2011–12, AGS continued to advise Commonwealth agencies on the implications of the new Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act). With work health and safety (WHS) being harmonised between the Commonwealth, States and Territories, it became an important emerging area of practice that affected AGS's clients both as entities and as individuals.

In particular, we provided advice on the scope of the primary duties in relation to the Commonwealth and public authorities, and the new health and safety duty for 'officers' and who might be an 'officer' in that context. For some Commonwealth agencies, we advised not only on the application of the Act in Australia, but also its application outside Australia.

AGS also provided advice to numerous clients on WHS obligations in the context of employment disputes and potential litigation against the Commonwealth, provided assistance to clients with WHS right of entry matters and advised a regulatory client on the impact of new Commonwealth and State WHS laws on their public guidance notes.

AGS's team of WHS experts developed resources such as fact sheets to share our knowledge and expertise.

We also advised on the impact of WHS requirements on contracts and updated precedent documents for many agencies. We provided training sessions nationally for clients so they (and their officers and employees) could ensure they were aware of, and could meet, their new WHS duties.

In 2011–12 we conducted:

  • general awareness training to give clients an overview of the new WHS laws
  • training on the new 'officers' duty
  • practical training to HR practitioners
  • training on WHS in the procurement context.

This is an extract from the 2011–12 AGS annual report