Speaker: Tracey Browne, Manager - National Safety & Workers' Compensation Policy and Membership Services, Ai Group
New psychological hazard regulations
There is clearly a great deal of interest in this topic judging by the turnout. It was also invaluable to have Tracey speaking to us, because she was a representative for Ai Group on a working group that reviewed WorkSafe Victoria’s proposed OHS Amendment (Psychological Health) Regulations.
She expressed frustration that jurisdictions are forming their own codes rather than adopting the National Code. However, we have seen this occur with other hazards, so I suppose it is not that surprising.
Ai Group have a few concerns about the draft Victorian regulations. The first is about the heirarchy of controls, where information, instruction and training are the lowest order control. While this is appropriate for physical hazards, such as manual handling, it is not really applicable for psychological hazards in their view.
Another issue is the section on Prevention Plans: Ai Group has asked for much more detail to be given about those, because the draft code gives scant guidance on this topic.
They are also concerned about reporting requirements, including the need to report twice a year as well as the notion of notifiable incidents. While it is self-evident that Tracey is speaking on behalf of employers, I would love to hear the employees' and union perspective on this, as I suspect they would have very different views.
Public comment on the proposed regulations closed on 31 March, but you can read the initial proposed draft along with 79 submissions here: https://engage.vic.gov.au/proposed-psychological-health-regulations
During discussion after the presentation Tracey gave us a timeline for the legislation: penalties will not come into effect until 2024; the Regulations are due to be released in July 2022, while the Compliance Code is due in October 2022. For the latter there will be just 2 weeks allowed for public comment, so keep an eye out for that.
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