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What does NSW SafeWork’s new era mean for me?


SafeWork NSW is set to become a regulator in its own right after recommendations were handed down from a 12-month inquiry by former judge Robert McDougall.

The NSW Government will transform SafeWork into a standalone regulator in a bid to create a modern, strong and fit for purpose work health and safety regulator.

“Worker safety is not red tape, it is not a tick a box function, it is not a cost of doing business,” NSW Minister for Work Health and Safety Sophie Cotsis said. “It is a fundamental right for every worker to go to their job and come home safely.”

“We are committing to ensuring for family members that SafeWork will create improved processes to ensure they are informed at all steps of an investigation.

“We are committing to SafeWork’s inspectors that they will get the support they need to do their vital work.”

Many of the recommended reforms started after March last year, including reviewing SafeWork’s capabilities in triaging of incidents, improving the responsiveness of contact centre staff and pulling together SafeWork staff previously spread across the Department of Customer Service.

Other critical recommendations include:

  • Requiring SafeWork to keep those affected by workplace incidents, including families of deceased workers and those seriously injured at work, informed of progress of investigations and prosecutions.
  • Training more inspectors in dealing with psychosocial hazards in the workplace such as extreme workload and bullying.
  • Reviewing complaints handling policies.
  • Formalising data collection and analysis to make better compliance and enforcement decisions.

The Independent Review was informed by public consultation including submissions by former and current SafeWork staff, families of injured and deceased workers, unions and peak bodies, employer groups and SafeWork itself.

Detailed options are being developed on the possible design of the standalone regulator for the Government’s consideration.

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