Last night, a Greens bill to increase support for workplace health and safety representatives passed the upper house of the South Australian Parliament.
Greens Industrial Relations spokesperson, Tammy Franks MLC, brought the Work Health and Safety (Representative Assistance) Amendment Bill to a vote as part of a campaign for better support and protections for all workers' safety.
The changes broaden the scope of who can be called in to assist a health and safety representative, allowing for better support and greater expertise in resolving safety issues in the workplace. They bring SA in line with the harmonised model in place in the eastern states and remove the 'blue tape' restrictions introduced by the SA Liberal Party in 2012.
"While the Liberals’ scare campaign on my bill was obsessed with the CFMEU and construction sites, this is a bill that applies to each and every workplace and industry across our state, removing unnecessary restrictions on workers’ access to safety assistance and expertise when they need it, preferably before accidents occur,” Ms Franks said.
“The reason for this change is so that assistants have the right experience or expertise to actually help, while dispensing with the need to wait for committee approval. For example, it is no good calling in a crane expert to deal with a scissor lift issue or vice versa, or it is no good to call in an expert in commercial kitchens in the context of a suspected problem with a science lab. Allowing the right person for the right situation could save lives and I'm glad the Parliament saw fit to ensure that last night.
“The idea of harmonising occupational health and safety laws as a race to the bottom is not something that the Greens will support. It may be the wish of some that we have the least protections, but that is not what the Greens believe, and we will not give up on that.
“This is a small but significant change, and one that will save lives,” Ms Franks concluded.
The Greens achieved passage of the bill with the support of MPs from the Labor Government, Dignity and Advance SA, and expect it to pass the lower house before the end of the sitting year.