FREEHILLS SENIOR partner Barry Sherriff has been appointed to a Federal Government panel which will play a key role in harmonising occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation nationally.
The National Occupational Health & Safety Review Panel has been charged with the task of reviewing existing state and territory OHS legislation, and making recommendations on the optimal structure and content of a model national OHS Act.
As part of this process, the panel will seek and consider submissions from a broad range of stakeholders. A final report to the Workplace Relational Ministers’ Council is due by the end of January 2009.
Sherriff, who heads up Freehills OHS team, has extensive experience in the areas of employee relations and risk management, with a particular focus on OHS, including the development of proactive strategies for compliance and accident prevention. Sherriff has also been an active participant in industry debate, discussion and education programs throughout his 28 years of practice, and has written a number of articles and books exploring the issues affecting businesses arising out of Australia’s legal OHS landscape.
Sherriff will sit on the panel alongside the panel’s chairman Robin Stewart-Crompton, a former chief executive officer of the national OHS Commission, and Stephanie Mayman, a commissioner in the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission and chairwoman of the Occupational Safety and Health Tribunal appointed under Western Australia’s OHS legislation.
According to a statement from Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Julia Gillard, while the states and territories have taken a broadly similar approach to structuring their OHS legislation, there are some differences between them in terms of the detail and substantive matters in the laws, particularly in respect to duty holders and duties, defence mechanisms and compliance regimes, including penalties.
Harmonising OHS laws will boost business efficiency and provide greater certainty and protection for all workplace parties, Gillard said.