WHS (NUL) Regulation Amendments
In 2015, the Northern Territory Government undertook public consultation about possible amendments to the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 and Regulations 2011. These amendments focused on reducing the regulatory burden faced by businesses and workers where the cost of compliance has increased without a corresponding increase in health and safety outcomes.
Many of the possible amendments were strongly opposed in submissions received. Most respondents placed great value in keeping the legislation harmonised as far as possible to encourage and simplify cross-jurisdictional operations.
Following the public consultation period, the possible amendments were re-examined and amendments to three areas of the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Regulations will commence on 4 April 2016. These amendments are:
- increase the construction project trigger point value to $500,000
- construction induction cards will be issued by the regulator
- holders of authorisations will be able to notify matters to the regulator via phone, email or in person
The amendments are explained in greater detail below.
Construction Project Trigger Point
All jurisdictions in Australia have a trigger point at which construction work is deemed a construction project. This classification introduces a requirement for a Principal Contractor to perform additional work health and safety duties for the project. The trigger point in the Northern Territory was the same as that adopted almost everywhere in Australia - $250 000.
A national review of the legislation in 2014/15 resulted in a recommendation that the trigger point be increased to $450,000. This is appropriate for other jurisdictions as it will exclude most standard single-dwelling residential construction and allow a buffer for construction costs to increase over the next few years. In the Northern Territory, construction costs are higher than average due in part to the higher cost of raw materials, fuel, transport and labour in the Territory in comparison with other jurisdictions. To allow an equivalent buffer, the trigger point will be set at $500,000 in the Northern Territory.
Due to the extensive timeframe involved in construction work, a transitional provision is introduced in Regulation 834 to provide clarity around the application of the new trigger point to construction projects already in progress:
- If the construction phase of a project commences before 4 April 2016, the trigger point value of $250,000 will continue to apply.
- If the construction phase of a project commences after 4 April 2016, the new trigger point value of $500,000 will apply.
Notifying NT WorkSafe
Holders of various authorisations are obliged to notify the regulator about matters such as a change of residential address for high risk work licence holders; or the theft, loss or destruction of a licence, registration or accreditation document. There are penalties associated with failure to comply with the notification requirements.
As of 4 April 2016, these notifications are no longer limited to take the form of a written notice, so could be made via a more convenient means such as telephone, email or in person. Affected authorisations are:
- High risk work licence – Regulations 96 and 98(1)
- High risk work assessor accreditation – Regulation 127(1)
- Plant registration – Regulation 288(1)
- Asbestos removal licence – Regulation 513(1)
- Asbestos assessor licence – Regulation 513(1)
- Major hazard facility licence – Regulation 594(1)
High risk work licence holders will be able to change their residential address over the telephone, by email or in person once they have successfully answered security questions to verify their identity.
The requirement for an authorisation holder to apply to the regulator for a replacement licence, registration or accreditation document remains. This application must include a declaration describing the circumstances in which the original document was lost, stolen or destroyed. The fees payable for replacement authorisation documents are reviewed annually and published on the Licencing Fees and Charges page of the NT WorkSafe website.
Construction Induction Cards
On 4 April 2016, Regulation 325 will be repealed and all general construction induction cards (white cards) issued thereafter will be issued by the regulator. Previously, Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) could enter into an agreement to permit the issue of white cards on behalf of the regulator.
As the regulator will be the sole entity to issue white cards, there will be consistency in record keeping and administration procedures. This will make the replacement of lost, stolen or damaged white cards a much simpler process as the records for all white cards issued will now be held centrally.
RTOs still need to enter an agreement with the regulator to be approved to deliver general construction induction training in the Northern Territory. RTOs must commit to specified conditions such as ensuring training consists of a structured face-to-face course; agreeing to deliver training to Territorians in remote locations where reasonably practicable; and agreeing to participate in any training audits conducted by NT WorkSafe.