ACT Work Safety Council - Communique

Meeting number 29

30 August 2017

The Work Safety Council is established under the WorkHealthand Safety Act 2011 to advise the Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations on matters relating to work safety, workers’ compensation, bullying in the workplace and other workplace psychosocial issues. The Council meets quarterly and consists of representatives from government, industry, and unions.

Summary of discussions

The Chair advised the Council that the Minister had confirmed the appointment of three new members: Mr Kirk Coningham (Master Builders Association) as an Employer Representative; Ms Sharron O’Neill (University of New South Wales) as a Ministerial Appointee; and Ms Louise Hughes (SRC Solutions Pty Ltd) as an Acting Employer Representative.

Note: Mr Coningham has subsequently resigned from his position at the Master Builders Association and consequently also from the Council. A call for nominations to fill the vacant Employer Representative position will occur in due course.

Prior to the meeting, the Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations, Rachel Stephen-Smith, had written to the Council requesting that the Work Safety Council establish a fixed term subcommittee of the Council to report on apprentice and young workers’ safety. Members were provided with the draft Terms of Reference for the proposed Committee. The Council agreed to the Minister’s request and endorsed the proposed Terms of Reference with the suggestion that health and wellbeing language be added to the Terms of Reference. Nominations for the Apprentice and Young Workers Safety Advisory Committee are now being sought from key industry stakeholders.

Members were provided with an update on the Occupational Violence Advisory Committee. The Committee proposed that they develop a Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) network strategy to raise awareness that occupational violence in schools and hospitals is not acceptable. This proposal was supported by the Council, which acknowledged the work the Committee has carried out to date.

The Council was provided with an update on the deliberations of the Construction Safety Advisory Committee. The Committee advised that it had recently been presented with the findings of the safety climate survey into the ACT construction industry conducted by RMIT University. The Council was advised that the research will help inform a new safety strategy for the construction industry which is being developed by the Construction Safety Advisory Committee.

The CFMEU put forward a number of legislative reform proposals aimed at enhancing engagement and consultation within the construction industry which the Council agreed to put forward to the Minister.

The ACT Work Safety Commissioner provided the Council with a written update on the recent activities of WorkSafe ACT. Members discussed the importance of inspectors to the effective operation of the workplace health and safety legislation in the ACT and discussed how decisions are made regarding the allocation of inspectors across workplaces. It was noted that WHS representatives were of particular importance to small and medium size enterprises in order to create better health outcomes for employers and employees, and the Council will continue to consider ideas for improving workplace health and safety outcomes among small and medium enterprises in the ACT.

Next Meeting scheduled for Wednesday 29 November 2017.


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