Get OHS accreditation by March or don't tender, Federal Govt warns

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Get OHS accreditation by March or don't tender, Federal Govt warns

A new scheme that forces tenderers for major Australian Government construction projects to have accreditation to federal OHS standards is expected to come into operation from 1 March 2006.

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A new scheme that forces tenderers for major Australian Government construction projects to have accreditation to federal OHS standards is expected to come into operation from 1 March 2006.

Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews told the Master Builders Association at the launch of its OHS policy blueprint that the Federal Safety Commissioner is developing an OHS accreditation scheme for Australian Government construction projects.

'Under the initial part of the scheme all successful tenderers for federally funded building and construction work worth over $6 million will be required to be accredited,’ Andrews said.

'Accreditation will recognise the commitment to OHS best practice that many contractors already aspire to.’

Interim accreditation

He said he understood interim accreditation arrangements are likely to come into force from 1 March 2006 and that the Federal Safety Commissioner, Tom Fisher, is consulting widely with the industry to ensure this happens in a managed way.

He said the MBA has been actively involved in these consultations and the Government will have regard to the needs of the 95% of businesses that the MBA refers to in its blueprint.

Industrial manslaughter laws brought in by 'stealth'

Andrews also criticised the Victorian, NSW and ACT Governments for introducing the offence of industrial manslaughter by ‘stealth’.

He said the Government has always emphasised prevention rather than punishment after the incident as this ‘fosters a workplace environment which promotes safety rather than allocates blame’.

'This is in stark contrast to the actions various State and Territory Governments,’ Andrews said.

‘As many of you would be aware, the NSW Government has recently passed the NSW OHS Workplace Deaths Bill, where employers will face up to five years jail and a $165,000 fine if they are convicted of causing an employers death through “recklessness”.

‘The Victorian Government has introduced the offence of ‘reckless endangerment’ under the Victorian OHS Act 2004. This offence carries with a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years, or a fine note exceeding $184,000, or both. And in the case of a body corporate, a fine not exceeding $920,000.

‘The ACT’s industrial manslaughter laws, create a separate criminal offence under the ACT Crimes Act.’

Andrews said these laws ‘inexplicably place employers and employees in what can only be described as an adversarial workplace setting’.

‘The offences will create uncertainties for employers which may discourage employers and employees from being closely involved in safety issues and place the parties in an adversarial environment for fear of personal prosecution,’ he said.

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