Like a number of other countries, Australian occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation has undergone substantial reform since the late 1970s. This has entailed a shift from specification standards to general duties supported by process and performance standards, and which cover a wider range of duty holders (including upstream duty holders), hazards and workers. The revised laws also entailed provisions to promote employee participation as well as new inspectoral powers and enforcement measures. These changes together with other developments, notably the growing influence of risk management/systematic OHS management and concerns about psychosocial hazards, have profound implications for the role and functioning of inspectorates. Yet there have been few attempts to assess how inspectorates have responded to these challenges. Between 2003 and 2007 an Australian Research Council funded project was undertaken entailing documentary and statistical analysis, extended interviews with almost 140 inspectors and observations collected when researchers accompanied inspectors on 120 workplace visits. The study examined how inspectors dealt with upstream duty holders. It found that upstream duty holders were both an increasing area of attention for inspectorates but issues involving these duty holders often proved difficult to resolve due to jurisdictional and resourcing issues.
Johnstone, Richard, 2011, WP 77 - Enforcing upstream: Australian health and safety inspectors and upstream duty holders, National Research Centre for OHS Regulation, Canberra