Unions decry proposed changes to WHS entry rights

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Unions decry proposed changes to WHS entry rights

Changes to right-of-entry laws being pursued by the Qld State Government will result in "ridiculous" delays in responding to serious and imminent dangers on work sites, Queensland unions argue.

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Changes to right-of-entry laws being pursued by the Queensland State Government will result in ‘ridiculous’ delays in responding to serious and imminent dangers on work sites, Queensland unions argue.
 
The Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 was introduced into State Parliament last month because the Government had identified a need to stop unions from entering worksites without warning and shutting them down using ‘trumped up’ safety issues.

Increased penalties
 
If the bill is passed, WHS entry permit holders will be required to give at least 24 hours prior notice before they can enter a workplace to inquire into a suspected safety breach.

There would also be increased penalties for non-compliance with WHS entry permit conditions and new penalties for failure to comply with the entry notification requirements
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'Unacceptable' risk
 
However, Queensland Council of Unions President John Battams said the proposed changes to the WHS Act would "not reduce red tape or compliance costs to industry or make for a more efficient regulatory system", and that it would be "ridiculous" for workers to have to wait 24 hours before their union can investigate a serious imminent health risk.

Battams said the 24-hour notice requirement only reflected the opinions of a small number of lobby groups.

"These changes completely disregard the findings of an extensive two-year consultation around national harmonisation of workplace health and safety laws," he said.

"[They] are not based on any real evidence and are simply designed to limit the influence of unions,” he said.

"The reality in many workplaces is that sometimes there are life-threatening risks that must be dealt with immediately to save the lives of workers, customers, workers in neighbouring premises and rescue personnel.

"Leaving safety issues for 24 hours puts everyone in that workplace at risk, and that is unacceptable."
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