SA: major reforms to WHS laws passed

The South Australian Government recently announced that significant reforms to the state’s WHS system are set to become law after passing through parliament.

The Work Health and Safety (Review Recommendations) Amendment Bill 2024makes a number of changes to health and safety laws following recommendations of an independent review of SafeWork SA released last year.

Reforms introduced as part of this Bill include:

  • Codifying the SafeWork SA Advisory Committee, a tripartite body that includes a broad cross-section of stakeholders, will advise SafeWork SA and the government on ways to improve work health and safety.
  • Reforming confidentiality rules to allow more information to be shared with certain parties. This will enable SafeWork SA to share more information with family members who have lost a loved one to a workplace incident.
  • Giving the state’s independent industrial umpire (the South Australian Employment Tribunal) a greater role in helping settle workplace disputes about health and safety issues, with a priority on alternative dispute resolution processes such as conciliation and mediation.

Changes to the South Australian Employment Tribunal’s dispute resolution powers in the Bill are closely modelled on similar amendments made to Queensland’s WHS laws in 2017, which have now operated successfully for nearly seven years.

This Bill follows an extensive period of consultation over 18 months between the government and stakeholders including industry associations, trade unions, and representatives of victims and their families.

“Our ability to share more information is a huge step forward and will allow us to provide families with a greater understanding of the circumstances of a fatal incident and to explain in more detail the actions we took during our investigations,” said SafeWork SA executive director, Glenn Farrell.

“Other parties will also be able to seek additional information to enable us to better fulfill our functions as a regulatory authority.”