New WHS laws (change in onus of proof)

Do you know your responsibilities under the new work health and safety laws?Under the old Workplace Health and Safety Laws i.e. the Queensland Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995, ‘employers’ (now known as the PCBU),  had a duty to ensure health and safety in the workplace subject to a limited defence of reasonable practicability. A “reverse onus” duty.

This reverse onus of proof has now been removed from the new work health and safety laws. It means that the presumption of innocence has been restored. BTW for those of you not up on your OHS jargon, PCBU stands for Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (learn more by undertaking a Cert IV in OHS).

According to the new Work Health and Safety Act 2011, the onus now moves to the prosecution to establish that the PCBU did not take all reasonably practicable measures to prevent a risk to health and safety occurring. The prosecution will now be required to set out what the PCBU could “reasonably” have done to prevent the risk to health and safety.

Under the new work health and safety laws, the prosecution must prove that the PCBU has not “so far as reasonably practicable” ensured the health and safety of its workers and that they were placed at risk from work carried conducted at the workplace.

Sound complicated? Studying a Certificate IV in Occupational Health and Safety will assist you understand your duties under the new work health and safety laws.