UnionsACT welcomes new independent WorkSafe ACT, must now focus on worker safety and compliance

UnionsACT has today welcomed the WHS Amendment Bill in the ACT Assembly today, which will establish a new, independent WorkSafe ACT.

The Bill debated today comes after more than three years of campaigning by unions in Canberra calling for a stronger, more independent regulator, and better safety outcomes for workers.

The ACT remains the second most dangerous place in Australia to work with more than 3500 workers suffering a serious workplace injury each year.

The following quotes are attributable to Alex White, secretary of UnionsACT:

“UnionsACT strongly supports the laws passed today to improve workplace safety regulation and to finally create an independent Work Safety Commissioner.

“We congratulate Work Safety Minister Suzanne Orr, her predecessor Rachel Stephen-Smith and the Labor Government, for working cooperatively with unions to improve work safety in Canberra.

“Since 2015, we’ve had the ludicrous situation where the dog and motorboat licensing regulator was also responsible for the workplace safety of hundreds of thousands of working people.

“The ACT continues to be one of the worst performing jurisdictions when it comes to worker safety, because of an unwillingness by past safety regulators to enforce the law.

“We cannot accept more of the same, where law-breaking bosses can put workers in danger without consequence, and where WorkSafe ACT focuses on a failed ‘educate/engage’ approach. This botched enforcement method was heavily criticised by the Independent Review.

“The number one priority for the new, independent Work Safety Commissioner is to focus on enforcing the law so workers are kept safe, and that dodgy bosses who callously endanger their workers are prosecuted.”

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