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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 6 Hansard (7 June) . . Page.. 2169 ..


Work Health and Safety Amendment Bill 2018

Ms Stephen-Smith, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Community Services and Social Inclusion, Minister for Disability, Children and Youth, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations) (10.57): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Today I am pleased to present the Work Health and Safety Amendment Bill 2018 to the Assembly. The purpose of this bill is to improve the safety culture in the ACT's construction industry by facilitating greater consultation on major construction projects.

"Safety culture" is a subset of the overall organisational or company culture. The safety culture of an organisation is the product of individual and group values, attitudes, perceptions, competencies, and patterns of behaviour. It determines the commitment to, and the style and proficiency of, an organisation's health and safety management. Organisations with a positive safety culture are characterised by communications founded on mutual trust, by shared perceptions of the importance of safety and by confidence in the efficacy of preventive measures.

The national work health and safety strategy acknowledges that work health and safety improvements are best achieved when health and safety are supported by the organisation's culture and embedded in its procedures and processes. The national work health and safety strategy identifies that a positive culture for health and safety can be achieved by: communities and their leaders driving improved work health and safety, organisational leaders fostering a culture of consultation and collaboration which actively improves work health and safety, and health and safety being given priority in work processes and decisions.

Last year the RMIT University Centre for Construction Work Health and Safety Research conducted an independent survey of the safety culture in the ACT construction industry. The research highlighted the importance of meaningful consultation with workers on health and safety matters but found that the quality and effectiveness of formal consultation mechanisms on construction sites in the territory was variable.

In making this finding RMIT suggested there were opportunities to review the way workers are engaged and the way they are able to raise concerns about work health and safety and provide meaningful input into the design of safe and healthy ways of working. This finding followed the 2012 Getting home safely report, which had similarly emphasised the importance of a consultative approach to project safety.


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