SafeWork NSW has a number of tools in its compliance and enforcement toolbox. Those tools range from giving advice or guidance up to prosecution in Court. This article aims to provide an idea of when SafeWork NSW may use each tool and where to find more information about them.
Advice or guidance
“Advice and guidance aims to raise workplace parties’ awareness of their rights and obligations and help duty holders know how to comply with work health and safety laws and build their capability to address work health and safety issues and achieve compliance.
Having provided the duty holder with advice or guidance as to how compliance may be achieved, if satisfied that a person has taken timely and satisfactory steps to remedy a breach at the time of detection or through agreed action, the regulator may decide to take no further action.” (National Compliance and Enforcement Policy page 7)
In the 12 months of 2013-14 WorkCover Inspectors made 14,544 visits to workplaces in NSW and issued 6,729 inspection reports that documented advice provided onsite during workplace visits.
Improvement or Prohibition Notice
An Improvement Notice is a remedial enforcement action not a punishment action. It may be issued when a safety issue has to be improved and work does not have to cease while improvements are being made, eg.to fix a slip hazard. But the safety issue will have to be resolved within a time specified in the notice.
When there is a serious risk to health and safety the SafeWork Inspector may issue a Prohibition Notice requiring that work cease until the risk is dealt with, eg. if scaffolding is not safe then work must stop until it is made safe. It is a remedial enforcement action not a punishment action.
But, “Where there is a failure to comply with an inspector’s notice, the regulator may prosecute or, if there is a serious risk to health and safety, may also seek an injunction against the person to whom the notice was directed.” (National Compliance and Enforcement Policy page 8)
In the 12 months of 2013 – 2014, WorkCover Inspectors issued 5,091 Improvement Notices and 496 Prohibition Notices.
SafeWork NSW and Court Sanctions.
The rest of SafeWork NSW’s tools are sanctions that they or the Court applies to the duty holder who is in breach of WHS legislation. There is insufficient space to cover those adequately in this size of article so we recommend that you explore the following:
1. The National Compliance and Enforcement Policy pages 8 to 13 and find the enforcement tool you have attention on
2. WorkCover’s website
3. The WHS Act 2011
section 215 Injunctions for Non Compliance with Notices
section 230 Prosecutions section 236 Adverse Publicity Orders
section 237 Orders for Restoration
section 238 WHS Project Orders
section 239 Court Ordered WHS Undertaking
section 240 Injunctions section 241 Training Order
section 243 Penalty Notices
section 254 WHS Civil Penalties
4. Workcover’s Compliance Policy and Prosecution Guidelines, which supplements the National Compliance and Enforcement Policy
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