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New workplace health and safety rules for Queensland’s rural industry

New work safety rules apply for farmers and rural industries from this month with the phasing out of legislated occupational health and safety exemptions for rural Queensland.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Executive Director, Dr Simon Blackwood, said the phasing out program, which started in 1990, required all rural property workers to be aware of, and comply with, the Workplace Health and Safety Regulation 2008.
“The phasing out of these exemptions is part of a staged removal to bring the rural industry in line with other Queensland industries,” Dr Blackwood said.
“This staged removal ensures rural workers can get appropriate training, education, certification and licensing where required.
“The exemptions revoked in 2009 involved rural activities in demolition, construction work and the use of hazardous substances.
“Exemptions being removed from this September regard registrable plant design, confined spaces and atmospheric contaminants.
“A new rural chemicals guide is available to rural workplaces containing information on herbicides, pesticides, hazardous substances, dangerous goods, flammable liquids, and agricultural and veterinary medicines.
“Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s A guide to working safely in confined spaces highlights the new requirements and provides useful tools and information.
“It highlights how working in a confined space has the potential to increase the risk of injury from noise, being overcome by fumes, gases or oxygen depletion, high or low temperatures, manual handling and slips, trips and falls.”
For more information about the rural industry exemption removal or managing rural chemicals go to or call the Workplace Health and Safety Infoline on 1300 369 915.
Dr Blackwood highlighted that the changes which took effect from 1 September did not apply to rural workers being exempt from the requirement to hold a licence to perform high risk work (e.g. forklift, tower crane, scaffolding).
“The rural exemption for this part of the regulation has been extended indefinitely until the new national model health and safety laws are enacted in Queensland,” he said.
“The amendment ensures workers in the rural industry are not legally required to undertake the cost of training to obtain a licence only to find out when the national OHS laws are finalised that they may no longer be required to hold a licence to operate in that class of work.
“However, it should be noted that forklift licensing is an excellent means of meeting the requirements of the current WHS legislation to provide a safe workplace.
“Rural businesses that use forklifts are urged to have operators of forklifts trained and licensed, particularly those who are regularly required to operate forklifts.”
Forklift (and other classes of high-risk work) licensing is expected to be required under the nationally harmonised legislation from 1 January 2012.

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Last reviewed
9 September 2010
Last updated
5 November 2015
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