The Harmonisation of Australia's Occupational Health and Safety Laws: Much Ado About Nothing?
(2013) 26 Australian Journal of Labour Law 185-213
34 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2013 Last revised: 1 Sep 2014
Date Written: 2013
Numerous reports over the past 30 years have concluded that a more nationally consistent approach to occupational health and safety (OHS) regulation would be in the public interest; however previous attempts to develop such an approach have met with mixed success. Against this backdrop, the current initiative to harmonise Australia’s OHS laws commenced with heightened expectations. This article examines the promise underpinning the current initiative and the effort involved in developing the harmonised laws and asks: Has the public interest been served by the move towards harmonisation or is it ‘much ado about nothing’? The article’s examination reveals that significant reforms have been made and a higher level of jurisdictional consistency attained. It also observes, however, that relative ‘success’ is in the eye of the beholder, that some stakeholders have been left dissatisfied, and the harmonised regime is vulnerable to the pressure they can bring on responsive state governments. The implications of this conclusion for the future of OHS harmonisation are then examined.
Keywords: occupational health and safety, public interest, harmonisation
JEL Classification: I18, J28, K20, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation