find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Health and safety law harmonisation held back

Health and safety law harmonisation held back

The Model Work Health and Safety Act introduced in 2011 has failed to unify health and safety laws around Australia, with two states yet to implement the act, according to a Clyde & Co partner.

Speaking on an episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show podcast recently, Clyde & Co partner Alena Titterton spoke about developments in the harmonisation of health and safety laws around the country, along with the jurisdictional differences that are preventing true harmonisation.

“My particular area of focus is health and safety law, so I think you'd have to have been living under a rock over the last five years if you haven't heard about the harmonisation of health and safety laws around the country,” Ms Titterton said.

The Model Work Health and Safety Act was introduced in 2011, and all jurisdictions adopted it during 2012 and 2013 apart from Victoria and Western Australia.

“Western Australia is due to come on board as of January 2017, and Victoria hasn't adopted the harmonised model,” Ms Titterton said.

“There's this whole debate that rages around whether harmonisation has been successful or not, and I'm on record as having said right from the beginning of the process, that it was never possible to achieve harmonisation and consistency of that legislation when you're adopting a model laws kind of approach, because you're always going to get jurisdictional differences over time.”

She continued: “I think we kind of thought that we'd get to see those differences maybe five years down the track. We saw them in the first couple of years of law, which was incredible.”

On top of this, differences between the courts in each jurisdiction have been highlighted.

“I think perhaps what's the more interesting development, is that while you've got this harmonisation of the laws, you've also got a divergence in which courts around the country are hearing health and safety prosecutions,” Ms Titterton said.

“In NSW, there was quite a public campaign to move away from the specialist court in the NSW Industrial Court. Now we've got these safety prosecutions being heard in the District and Supreme Courts in NSW.”

“Almost at the same time, we've got an Industrial Magistrates Court being set up in the ACT, developing this specialised jurisprudence in the area, so we've got a Chief Magistrate down there that's kind of putting out some really interesting decisions.”

A further issue Ms Titterton touched on was the fact that courts don’t publish transcripts of work health and safety cases.

“One of the other interesting aspects of things, and I think it’s a related point, is that a lot of these cases are being heard in courts that don’t publish their judgments,” she said.

“There are two key policy reasons for sentencing in regulatory enforcement, such as safety prosecutions, and that’s your general deterrents and your specific deterrents. But you also want to send that message out to the community at large, that failing to look after the health and safety of your workers and other people at your workplaces, is going to come with significant ramifications.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Health and safety law harmonisation held back
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
High Court overturns ‘excessive’ anti-protest legislation
Bob Brown’s recent victory in the High Court over the Tasmanian government was a win for fundament...
Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked
Attempts to beef up the requirements to obtain Australian citizenship were thwarted this week, after...
Lawyers warn against mandatory sentencing measures amid political jeers
Mandatory sentencing has become a topic for politicians on both sides of Federal Parliament to jostl...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...