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New law to prevent unions calling ‘stop work’ over safety issues

A new bill designed to limit the power of unions to call a ‘stop work’ over health and safety issues on work sites has been officially introduced to the Queensland Parliament.

The Bill implements findings from a review conducted by the Queensland Government on the national model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws, which commenced in Queensland in January 2012.

The Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 will amend legislation to:

  • require at least 24 hours, but no more than 14 days, prior notice by WHS entry permit holders before they can enter a workplace to inquire into a suspected contravention. This will align with other entry notification periods in the WHS Act and the Fair Work Act 2009
  • increase penalties for non-compliance with WHS entry permit conditions and introduce penalties for failure to comply with the entry notification requirements
  • require at least 24 hours, but no more than 14 days, prior notice before any person assisting a health and safety representative can have access to the workplace
  • remove the power of health and safety representatives to direct workers to cease unsafe work
  • remove the requirement under the WHS Act for a person conducting a business or undertaking to provide a list of health and safety representatives to the WHS regulator
  • allow for codes of practice adopted in Queensland to be approved, varied or revoked without requiring national consultation as currently required by the WHS Act
  • increase the maximum penalty that can be prescribed for offences in the Electrical Safety Regulation 2013 to 300 penalty units.

The amendments will be debated in Parliament. The government will finalise its response to other issues discussed by the roundtable review.

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