Revisiting the COAG Case for OHS Harmonisation

Windholz, E. L., (2013), Revisiting the COAG Case for OHS Harmonisation, J Health & Safety, Research & Practice, 5(1), 9-16

8 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2013 Last revised: 25 Nov 2013

See all articles by Eric Windholz

Eric Windholz

Monash University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: March 1, 2013

Abstract

Occupational health and safety (OHS) harmonisation in Australia is on a precipice. While noting that several forces have operated to bring about this situation (including traditional federal/state tensions compounded by the election in a number of States of Conservative governments), this article focuses on the strength of the case for harmonisation. The Council of Australian Governments’ case for harmonisation appears compelling: improved efficiency for business and governments; improved effectiveness in reducing workplace death, injury and disease; and equality of safety standards and regulatory treatment for workers and employers. The Regulatory Impact Statements prepared for the harmonised regime estimate it will deliver a significant net societal benefit. This article’s examination reveals, however, that the intuitive appeal of the ‘efficiency, effectiveness, equality’ narrative belies harmonisation’s complex and contested nature. Harmonisation involves balancing three sets of values: (1) economic efficiency; (2) broader societal values of equity, justice and fairness; and (3) the democratic values underpinning our federal system of government. This balancing exercise involves difficult trade-offs and raises as many questions as it answers.

Keywords: OHS, Harmonisation, Efficiency, Effectiveness, Equality, Regulatory Impact Statements

JEL Classification: I18, K32

Suggested Citation

Windholz, Eric, Revisiting the COAG Case for OHS Harmonisation (March 1, 2013). Windholz, E. L., (2013), Revisiting the COAG Case for OHS Harmonisation, J Health & Safety, Research & Practice, 5(1), 9-16, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2228985

Eric Windholz (Contact Author)

Monash University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

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