Did You Know? Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) (WHS Act) an ‘Officer’ includes a person who makes or participates in making decisions that affect the whole or a substantial part of a public authority. This will most commonly include the position of Chief Executive Officer but may also include Executives and Managers from the SAES and Feeder Group. Whether you would be considered an ‘Officer’ as deemed under the WHS Act depends on a number of factors such as seniority, delegations, financial sign-off and reporting structures.

Why is this important for your department? The new WHS Act imposes greater responsibilities and legal requirements on you as an Executive, particularly if you are an ‘Officer’. This is because the WHS act requires ‘Officers’ to exercise ‘due diligence’ to ensure that the health and safety duties of the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) are being met.

Why is this important for you? ‘Officers’ can be held personally responsible for contraventions of WHS laws. An ‘Officer’ has a duty to exercise due diligence to ensure a PCBU meets its health and safety obligations. This duty cannot be delegated and failure to comply is a criminal offence, which can carry severe penalties.

The Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA SA), with the support of SafeWork SA, have designed a forum exclusively for Public Sector Executives who are likely to be considered an ‘Officer’ under the WHS Act.

The forum will provide a concise overview of the new WHS legislation and will include a discussion of the general safety principles (many of which are not new) along with a discussion of key changes. We will discuss how you can determine whether you are an ‘Officer’ for the purposes of the WHS Act and, if you are, what you can do to ensure you meet your obligations.

Topics to be covered include:

  • What are the important changes? An overview of changes that matter including changes to terminology, union right of entry, horizontal and vertical consultation and penalties.
  • What hasn’t changed? An overview of the general safety principles under the Act which have not changed.
  • Who will be an ‘Officer’ and why?
  • What are my obligations as an ‘Officer’? What does ‘due diligence’ actually mean?
  • What are the important areas of regulation for my department? A discussion of key obligations, regulations, policies and Codes of Practice.

You may have already attended a WHS workshop, however, this forum is different as it will have a strong practical focus specifically on the elements that matter to Public Sector Executives. It will focus on your obligations as an individual and how you can meet those obligations with non-onerous guidelines.

This forum will be facilitated by Michael Kay, a specialist Employment/WHS Lawyer plus you will have the opportunity to direct your questions in a Q&A panel session involving:

  • Elbert Brooks, Executive Director, Public Sector Workforce Relations
  • Juanita Lovatt, Director Strategic Interventions, SafeWork SA
  • Brad McCloud, Senior Solicitor, Crown Solicitor’s Office