Thursday, 24 November 2011
Work Health and Safety Bill 2011, Work Health and Safety (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Bill 2011; In Committee
This item proposed by Senator Abetz would remove clause 176, which allows an inspector to seize a workplace or part of a workplace or a plant, substance or structure at a workplace that the inspector has entered in accordance with part 9 if the inspector reasonably believes that the workplace or thing—that is the first time I have used 'thing' in a contribution!—is defective or hazardous to a degree likely to cause serious injury or illness or a dangerous incident.
An inspector's power to seize part of a workplace will only arise in the most dangerous situations where an item is defective or hazardous to a degree where it is likely to cause serious injury or illness or a dangerous incident. If those circumstances cease to exist then it may be reasonably expected that the item would be returned immediately. Without this power, worker safety is potentially put at risk. Inspectors are subject to the regulator's direction and oversight and also other checks and balances in the provisions, including the requirement for written notice to be given of the decision and the requirement to provide a receipt for seized items. Higher courts such as the Supreme Court also have inherent judicial oversight of the decision making and actions of inspectors as public officials. Procedures are included in the bill for return of seized items in clause 180 and access to seized items in clause 181.