20 April, 2024
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NSW Government to transform SafeWork NSW into standalone work, health and safety regulator

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The New South Wales Government will transform SafeWork into a standalone regulator following a 12-month inquiry by former judge The Hon. Robert McDougall KC.

The Government has released the independent report as it continues work to create a modern, strong and fit for purpose work health and safety regulator.

The Government has endorsed the report’s recommendations with further work underway to determine specific implementation details. 

Many of the recommended reforms started after March last year, including reviewing SafeWork’s capabilities in triaging of incidents, improving the responsiveness of contact centre staff and pulling together SafeWork staff previously spread across the Department of Customer Service.

Other critical recommendations include:

  • Requiring SafeWork to keep those affected by workplace incidents, including families of deceased workers and those seriously injured at work, informed of progress of investigations and prosecutions,
  • Training more inspectors in dealing with psychosocial hazards in the workplace such as extreme workload and bullying,
  • Reviewing complaints handling policies,
  • Formalising data collection and analysis to make better compliance and enforcement decisions.

In opposition, Labor fought for the establishment of this inquiry to ensure that workers were protected, following a spate of scandals under Liberal-National Ministers such as an inadequate response to the emerging silica threat.

The Independent Review was informed by public consultation including submissions by former and current SafeWork staff, families of injured and deceased workers, unions and peak bodies, employer groups and SafeWork itself.

Detailed options are being developed on the possible design of the standalone regulator for the Government’s consideration.

Quotes attributed to Minister for Work Health and Safety Sophie Cotsis: 

“This Government commits to all NSW workers that it will never allow the health and safety regulator to be compromised so badly again.”

“Worker safety is not red tape, it is not a tick a box function, it is not a cost of doing business.”

“It is a fundamental right for every worker to go to their job and come home safely.”

“We are committing to ensuring for family members that SafeWork will create improved processes to ensure they are informed at all steps of an investigation.

“We are committing to SafeWork’s inspectors that they will get the support they need to do their vital work.”

“I thank the Hon. Robert McDougall KC and those who made submissions to the review for their work.”

Quotes attributed to SafeWork NSW’s Trent Curtin:

“SafeWork NSW is entering a new era. Our dedicated and passionate staff want to make sure that everyone that goes to work can come home safely.”

“The recommendations set out by the Hon. Robert McDougall KC will assist SafeWork to become a strong and responsive work health and safety regulator for NSW.”

“With work already underway, SafeWork NSW will take all steps necessary to analyse our regulatory approaches and support systems to ensure best-practise work health and safety regulation for NSW workers.”

Sophie Cotsis

Minister for Industrial Relations

Minister for Work Health and Safety

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