Is it Safer Without You?: Analysing the Intersection between Work Health and Safety and Anti-Discrimination Laws

Journal of Health, Safety and Environment, 30 1: 167-183

Posted: 27 Jun 2015

See all articles by Paul Harpur

Paul Harpur

University of Queensland - T.C. Beirne School of Law

Ben French

Griffith University - Griffith Business School

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

Anti-discrimination and occupational health and safety laws historically targeted the employment relationship. The recently enacted national Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth) (WHS Act) has rejected the employer and employee relationship as the primary relationship warranting regulation. The WHS Act instead adopts a wider regulatory focus and requires persons conducting businesses or undertakings (PCBUs) to manage health and safety in a range of work relationships that are not regulated by other workplace laws. The WHS Act reforms substantially alter how anti-discrimination and health and safety laws interact. In this study the authors argue that the expanded coverage of the WHS Act is resulting in a regulatory gap between workplace health and safety (WHS) and anti-discrimination laws. This gap is creating situations where PCBUs are managing health and safety issues in work relationships that are not protected by anti-discrimination laws. The authors analyse the possible implications of this disparity through a case study on workplace violence and workers with mental disabilities. The authors conclude that this regulatory gap is a recipe for future discriminatory health and safety policies and maintain that more research is required to ascertain how the different statutes operate in the workplace and the consequences of this interaction.

JEL Classification: k00

Suggested Citation

Harpur, Paul David and French, Ben, Is it Safer Without You?: Analysing the Intersection between Work Health and Safety and Anti-Discrimination Laws (2014). Journal of Health, Safety and Environment, 30 1: 167-183. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2623362

Paul David Harpur (Contact Author)

University of Queensland - T.C. Beirne School of Law ( email )

Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

Ben French

Griffith University - Griffith Business School ( email )

Brisbane, Queensland 4111
Australia

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