New South Wales  has established robust work health and safety legislation (WHS) to safeguard the wellbeing of its workforce. 

The cornerstone of WHS Regulation in NSW is the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.  This Legislation is comprehensive and aims to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities.  It applies to all business regardless of their size, emphasising the importance of a safe and health work environment. 

Key entities within this legislative framework are known as “persons conducting a business or undertaking” (PCBU).  This term encompasses employers, business owners and any individuals exercising control over a workplace.  PCBUs bear the primary duty of ensuring as far is reasonably practicable the health and safety of workers and other individuals affected by the work.  The duty of a PCBU involves identifying potential risks, implementing measure to mitigate those risks, maintaining safe premises, providing necessary training and supervision and ensure the ensuring the proper functionality of machinery and equipment.  Effective communication about health and safety matters is crucial and PCBUs are obligated to consult with workers to development and implement strategies for a secure workplace.

The Legislation places a strong emphasis on consultation, cooperation and continuous improvement between PCBUs and workers. It will be amended on 1 Jun 2024 with new provisions and, most importantly, new penalties.  The new penalties will be significantly greater and the most severe breach, known as Category 1, will attract a penalty for a corporation of nearly $10 million!

A recent case in the NSW District Court of Safework NSW v JBS Australia Pty Ltd (JBS) dealt with what is known as a Category 2 offence.  JBS is Australia’s largest meat and food processing business and operated a facility in northwest New South Wales at Caroona.  While haybales were being tested for moisture by an administrative employee, a bale fell on the employee causing her serious injuries (noting that these bales weigh nearly 700kg each). 

Safework NSW commenced proceedings against JBS.  The company has recently been found liable for the Category 2 offence and has been fined $300,000, plus ordered to pay Safework’s costs.

The NSW WHS Legislation establishes a framework that priorities the health and safety of workers Compliance with work health and safety legislation is vital if you are an employer.  Our firm has experience in these matters, and if you need further information, please contact Geoff Lloyd at our Camden office.