On 11 February 2016, the Victorian Government announced an expert panel had been engaged to “…review and strengthen occupational health and safety standards across the state.”
Dr Claire Noone (a former Director of Corporate Affairs at the Victorian WorkCover Authority from 2000 – 2003), Ms Cathy Butcher and Ms Margaret Donnan make up the panel.
The panel is expected to undertake extensive ‘stakeholder consultation’ and to report to the Minister for Finance by the end of 2016.
While the Terms of Reference are not yet available, the media release indicates that the “…panel will report on WorkSafe’s compliance and enforcement policy and activities, its provision of OHS compliance information and the promotion of OHS awareness, education and training”. It would appear that the review will not include consideration of adopting the harmonised work health and safety legislation, rather it will focus on ‘strengthening’ the existing legislative scheme.
A key component of WorkSafe’s ability to effectively carry out ‘OHS compliance and enforcement activities’ is the extent of its inspectorate. In December 2015, it was announced that 21 occupational health and safety inspectors and four investigators had graduated from training and would supplement the further 20 inspectors who graduated in May 2015. The December graduates consisted of ten construction inspectors, nine multi-disciplinary inspectors, four investigators and two specialist services inspectors (Hygienist and Licensing Auditors).