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Use the Force of Law, Luke,


old man emu
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It might sound like I'm stomping around in my jackboots in the uniform of a Totalitarian dictator, but isn't time during this crisis to use the Force of Law? I mean Force, not wishy-washy directives. Here's what I mean.

 

Long before COVID we had laws that were applied to the health of others. State Crimes Acts made it a serious offence to deliberately infect a person with a disease. Remember AIDS and STDs? These criminal laws also include an offence of attempting to commit a crime.

 

Next we have the Work Health and Safety laws. Section 19(2)  of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW and similar in other States) says:

(2) A person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of other persons is not put at risk from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking

 

Section 29 of the same Act says:

A person at a workplace (whether or not the person has another duty under this Part) must--

(a) take reasonable care for his or her own health and safety, and

(b) take reasonable care that his or her acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons, and

(c) comply, so far as the person is reasonably able, with any reasonable instruction that is given by the person conducting the business or undertaking to allow the person conducting the business or undertaking to comply with this Act.

 

Now, I'm not saying that the majority of people are hell-bent on carrying out an act that contravenes the Crimes Act, but the WH&S  Act and Regulations are being ignored. Got your Hi-Viz on?

 

We know it is not possible to eliminate the risk from COVID, but Regulation 36(5)  of the WH&S Regulations requires that risk minimisation happens.

(5) If a risk then remains, the duty holder must minimise the remaining risk, so far as is reasonably practicable, by ensuring the provision and use of suitable personal protective equipment.

 

Workplace is a fluid sort of thing. We probably think of it as somewhere within a building, or a building site, but what about the workplace of a bus driver, or a taxi driver? Shops are workplaces. Shopping centres are workplaces. Even the street is the workplace for some (Yes, even police have been fined by WH&S Inspectors for not wearing Hi-Viz during traffic work.)

 

So instead of wishy-washy "Please wear a mask" requests, why don't we start with, "Your failure to wear a mask in a workplace is an offence. Initially I will caution you that continued failure to wear a mask will result in your being prosecuted."

 

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So ome, going by what you quote about the WH&S laws above, it would be the requirement of the employer to provide you with covid safe masks and make their employees wear them. In other words, the boss could be fined if you don't wear one.

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4 hours ago, willedoo said:

So ome, going by what you quote about the WH&S laws above, it would be the requirement of the employer to provide you with covid safe masks and make their employees wear them. In other words, the boss could be fined if you don't wear one.

That applies to any other PPE. 

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That is true when it comes to employees, but I was getting at the aspect of a "person conducting a business or undertaking" as the WH&S Act defines the person responsible for compliance with the Act and Regulations. Look what shops like Woolworths, Bunnings and even local shops have done to put a physical barrier between customers and checkout staff. A shopkeeper is well within s/his Rights to require persons coming into the shop to wear a mask.

 

I'll throw in another NSW Act - Inclosed Lands Protection Act 1901 No 33

4   Unlawful entry on inclosed lands

(1)  Any person who, without lawful excuse (proof of which lies on the person), enters into inclosed lands without the consent of the owner, occupier or person apparently in charge of those lands, or who remains on those lands after being requested by the owner, occupier or person apparently in charge of those lands to leave those lands, is liable to a penalty 

 

Features of this Section are "without the consent" - therefore the owner, occupier or person in charge can set conditions of entry, and "remains after being requested to leave" - if a person is told to leave, they must.

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It appears to me that the government has caused some of the spread of the virus. They have not made PPE a legal requirement, they are allowing age care workers to do a few hours here and a few hours there in another extablishment. How stupid is that. In Qld it is illegal to go into an aboriginal centre without approval, just to stop us passing the disease to them. the same should apply to age care facilities. Probably in all states a blind eye has been passed to people breaking the laws, just because to apply the law might be considered draconian as no damage was done. It appears that in Vic the damage has been done.

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A lot of the masks I see people wearing on TV would not comply. There seems to be a problem with people not wanting their nostrils covered. This means they are fully exposed to the risk of inhalation, but at least they are reducing the risk of their exhalation becoming high velocity.

The people who seem to be causing the problems possibly can't read, or more likely think it does not apply to them. Which seems to be a common problem.

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