National OHS benchmarking draft report released

by 05 Feb 2010

The Productivity Commission (PC) has released a draft report which attempts to benchmark the maze of OHS regulatory and legislative instruments faced by Australian businesses.

Released last week the 405 page report - Performance Benchmarking of Australian Business Regulation: Occupational Health and Safety - canvasses regulator resourcing, overlapping state and industry-specific regulations, and high-cost areas of OHS, such as bullying and harassment, which have have been codified by some states but overlooked by others.

The Commission has called for submissions in response to its report by 22 February, with the final report expected to be complete by 23 March.

Key difference across jurisdictions identified include hazardous material handling, the management of 'psychosocial hazards', record keeping, and worker and union participation in breach investigations.

"Differences in regulation and its enforcement remain in a number of areas and the burden falls most heavily on businesses operating in more than one jurisdiction," Commissioner David Kalisch said in a statement.

The Commission conducted a raft of interviews with larger enterprise organisations to identify specific complaints.

Telstra said that while its employees were covered by the Comcare scheme its contractors were not. Boral complained that state-based regimes were "unhelpful, costly and unnecessary".

A respondent from NSW said business faced an assumption by the regulator, while industry group Business SA said the state's record keeping requirements were too onerous.

A 2009 Sensis survey of 1802 of small and medium enterprise commissioned for the report found that the major OHS cost concerns related to ongoing training (17 per cent), compliance with legislation (17 per cent) and procuring safety equipment (14 per cent).

The report can be downloaded here: