Wednesday, October 5, 2011

WSH Act Enforcement Measures

What are some of the enforcement measures to ensure compliance with the Act?

The following are some measures that may be used to ensure compliance.

Workplace Inspections
Inspectors are empowered to enter, inspect and examine any workplace at any time to ensure workplace safety. In order to do so, an inspector may:
• inspect, examine and make copies of any workplace documents;
• take samples of any material or substance found in, or being discharged from, any workplace for the purpose of analysis or test;
• take photographs or video recordings to record the conditions and the processes carried out in the workplace;
• take into custody any article in the workplace which is required for the purpose of an investigation or inquiry under the Act.

Investigations Into A Workplace Accident Or Incident
The Commissioner may order an investigation into any workplace accident or incident.  In the course of
investigations, the inspector may inspect the accident scene and workplace.  The inspector may also interview
and record statements of persons about the accident or incident.  These persons are bound to state the truth and assist in the investigations.

Suspension Of Certificates
When necessary, the Commissioner may suspend any certificate.  Examples of certificates issued under the Act include Certificates of Factory Registration and certificates issued to authorised examiners.  

Remedial Orders And Stop Work Orders
The Commissioner may issue a Remedial Order to require an employer or occupier or any other person to remove any workplace risk or to comply with a safe work practice whether or not there is any immediate danger.  This will be the primary tool that the Commissioner will use to require employers to improve their management of safety and health and the quality of risk assessment.

The Commissioner may issue a Stop Work Order to require the specified work to cease until measures have been taken  to ensure that the work can be carried out safely.  A Stop Work Order will be used in instances where severe lapses in safety and health conditions may cause immediate danger to the workers.

Failure to comply with either a Remedial Order or Stop Work Order is considered an offence.

Composition Fines
Composition fines are offered for offences at the Commissioner’s discretion. Offences may be compounded
to a sum not more than half the maximum fine prescribed for the offence or $5,000, whichever is lower.

Action may be taken if payment is not received within a specified period.

The Commissioner may prosecute any offender for violation under the Act.  If you are charged with an offence under  the Act, it is your duty to show to the courts that:
• you complied with the Act and/or its relevant subsidiary legislation;
• or you complied with the relevant approved code of practice or guidelines;
• or you took reasonable precautions and exercised due diligence where there was
no specific legislation or guidelines;
• or the offence was due to causes beyond your control, i.e. it was not reasonably practicable
to prevent the contravention or accident.

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