Safe Work Australia Chairman Tom Phillips

Australia Passes Milestone for National Safety Laws

The nation's OSH regulatory agency will become operational in November 2009, and it will deliver the laws by December 2011, Chairman Tom Phillips promised.

Australia remains on track to have an independent, national agency regulating workplace health and safety and workers' compensation arrangements beginning in November 2009, following Sept. 7 passage of legislation and a Sept. 18 meeting where the Safe Work Australia Council forwarded harmonized rules for approval and public comments. In November, the council becomes Safe Work Australia, the new agency's name. "We have reached a key milestone proving Safe Work Australia is on track to deliver national OHS laws by December 2011," said Tom Phillips, a former executive in Australia's automotive industry who is SWA's chairman.

The documents on which public comment are sought include a draft of the model OHS Act. Philllips said he hopes Australian businesses and the public actively participate in the development of the new legislation. "I believe harmonizing OHS laws will benefit workers across all industries by better protecting the lives and health of Australians. This regulatory reform will not come at the expense of the safety of Australian workers," he said.

So far, 41 organizations are acting as Safety Partners for Safe Work Australia Week, which will be held Oct. 25-31. The Safety Partners join 16 Safety Ambassadors to promote safety during the week.

SWA also is working on a nationally consistent approach for compensating victims of asbestos-related diseases. The Australian Mesothelioma Register, which may be maintained by a state or territorial agency or research organization, will resume collecting data in 2010.

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