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Health and safety in the workplace

Last updated July 2024. Chapter under review.

This chapter explains your health and safety obligations, and how to comply with them to ensure your workplace is safe.

Work health and safety laws

Every business in Australia must comply with the health and safety legislation that applies in their jurisdiction.

Every jurisdiction in Australia except Victoria has adopted a Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act based on the model WHS Act.

The model WHS Act was developed in 2011 with the aim of:

  • imposing uniform health and safety obligations on businesses throughout Australia; and
  • reducing the burden of having to comply with different obligations across different states and territories.
Important: A Commonwealth agency, Safe Work Australia, has responsibility for developing the model WHS Act. For it to become legally binding, the Commonwealth, states and territories must implement it as their own law. Every jurisdiction in Australia except Victoria has done so, with some amendments. It was implemented in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), New South Wales (NSW), the Northern Territory (NT) and Queensland in 2011; South Australia and Tasmania in 2012; and Western Australia (WA) in 2020.

Businesses operating in Victoria are subject to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act).