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Industry calls for 'quality not quantity' in OHS regulation

By: Peter Anderson, Chief Executive, ACCI
18 February, 2010

A draft report released this week by the Productivity Commission on the regulatory burdens created by differences in Australian occupational health and safety (OHS) systems, strongly supports the case for national consistency in OHS frameworks and supports industry calls for regulation on business that is workable and practical.

The report makes it clear that quality of regulation, not quantity, drives compliance and positive OHS cultures.

"Given that the Productivity Commission does not make specific recommendations, the value of the report is in the profile it gives to jurisdictional differences and their costs.

"Through the newly created Safe Work Australia, industry, unions and governments are on the right track to iron out some of the differences in laws that increase the regulatory burden on business. This task needs to be completed in a manner workable and fair to industry.

"Reduction in the red tape regulatory burden on business is essential so that OHS laws make compliance possible and practical, especially for small business. For larger businesses that operate in more than one State or Territory, the draft report makes it clear that different rules add to business costs."

During this past decade moves have been made to increase national consistency in key areas. Over this very period, the Productivity Commission finds that the injury incidence rate and fatality rate have declined.

"The fact that rates of injury and death in Australian workplaces are declining is a testament to the work of industry, unions and governments under the ten-year National OHS Strategy. However the level of decline falls short of targets which have been set, and this should lead to a re-doubling of efforts to give OHS issues the same high priority as given to road safety."

ACCI represents employers on Safe Work Australia, and is the industry party to the National OHS Strategy. ACCI also represents Australian employers on OHS issues in the International Labour Organisation.

Source: ACCI

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