While legislation sets out the general obligations on persons to ensure safety, Work Health and Safety Regulations provide more detailed duties and rules. They are sometimes called subordinate legislation or statutory rules. They often impose civil penalties for non-compliance. Regulations expand on the general obligations set out in the legislation. They normally contain detailed provisions that specify:
  • the general working environment;
  • hazardous work, such as demolition and electrical work;
  • displaying signs and reporting incidents;
  • plant and structures;
  • construction work; and
  • hazardous chemicals.
Regulations are laws, and as such are legally binding. What do regulations cover? Work health and safety regulations in all jurisdictions address health and safety issues, hazards and other requirements, including things like what is unsafe or high-risk work, who is allowed to enter your premises for WHS purposes, any risk management processes, and what determines a major hazard facility. Regulations also stipulate that employers have an obligation to provide employees with information, training and instruction as well as creating and maintaining a safe work environment. Employers must also address first aid requirements, emergency plans and procedures. Regulations also address the following areas relating to work activities involving risk:
  • supplying personal protective equipment;
  • performing remote or isolated work;
  • working in a hazardous environment;
  • storing flammable or combustible substances;
  • managing risks related to falling objects;
  • maintaining safe and reasonable noise levels
  • working in confined spaces;
  • working at heights;
  • electrical safety;
  • maintenance, repair and construction of plant and structures; and
  • asbestos and asbestos removal.
If your business is involved in any activity covered by the regulations, you need to keep up to date with any new or changed obligations. Code of practice A code of practice is an instrument made under health and safety legislation that is designed to provide practical guidance about discharging your duty of care. The Commonwealth, NSW, Queensland, NT, the ACT, SA and Tasmania follow the WHS model codes of practice. Victoria and WA follow their own compliance codes and codes of practice. In Victoria, codes of practice are called ‘compliance codes’. A code of practice is a practical guide to achieving the standards required under health and safety laws. Codes of practice are not legally binding (except in Victoria) but a safety regulator can rely on your failure to follow a code of practice to demonstrate your business’s failure to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure health and safety. In this instance, ‘reasonable practicable’ refers to what is reasonably able to be done when ensuring health and safety, taking into account and weighing all the relevant matters, including:
  1. the likelihood of the hazard or risk occurring;
  2. the degree of harm that may result from the hazard or risk;
  3. what the person concerned knows or ought reasonably to know about:
  4. the hazard or risk; and
  5. ways of eliminating or minimising the risk;
  6. the availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or minimise the risk; and
  7. the cost associated with available ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, including whether the cost is grossly disproportionate to the risk.
Because there are some changes between jurisdictions in the Work Health and Safety Act, regulations and codes, it is wise to consult your local regulation on the differences before assuming that one set of rules applies nation-wide.

Top stories for Workplace health & safety regulations


Your questions answered: Are there age restrictions on heavy lifting?

Workplace health & safety regulations

Q We have young workers (aged 15 years and over) working with us. Are there any age restrictions relating to heavy lifting? Our 15-year-old workers could be lifting around 12kg. A Safe Work Australia’s model codes of practice have been developed in […]

By Portner Press on April 16th, 2019

Unwary employers will now face BIGGER penalties

Workplace health & safety regulations

Q: Is Bluetooth enough, or do we need hands-free kits too?

By Michael Selinger on April 5th, 2019

KFC operator fined for young supervisors’ mistakes

Workplace health & safety regulations

Even if you have health and safety management systems in place in your organisation, if your workers fail to adhere to them, the employer can still be held liable.

By Portner Press on April 4th, 2019

Workers crushed to death while on a cigarette break

Workplace health & safety regulations

A supervising rigger for a crane hire company in WA has been fined $4,000 plus $10,000 costs following an accident where two workers were crushed to death.

By Portner Press on March 26th, 2019

6 steps EVERY employer must take to avoid a forklift catastrophe

Workplace health & safety regulations

Forklift accidents due to poor traffic management are an ongoing problem in Australia, despite the huge penalties that can be imposed for not implementing suitable traffic safety measures.

By Portner Press on March 22nd, 2019

Worker loses arm in shredding accident

Workplace health & safety regulations

A Melbourne company has been convicted and fined $120,000, plus $4,725 costs for failing to take reasonably practicable steps that would have prevented one of its workers from losing their whole left arm.

By Portner Press on March 21st, 2019

How will the WHS Act independent review affect you? – Part 2

Workplace health & safety regulations

Today, we examine the WHS Act independent review recommendations that were made, and how they could affect your business.

By Michael Selinger on March 15th, 2019

How will the WHS Act independent review affect you? – Part 1

Workplace health & safety regulations

A report from the independent review of the harmonised WHS laws in Australia has provided an overall tick of approval for the operation of the safety laws. But what does the Review mean for businesses around Australia?

By Michael Selinger on March 14th, 2019

Your questions answered: What are the spill kits requirements in an aged care home?

Workplace health & safety regulations

Q: Could you please point out the standard that relates to spill kits in an aged care setting?

By Portner Press on March 14th, 2019

SafeWork NSW told to resubmit its prosecution case

Workplace health & safety regulations

SafeWork NSW’s slapdash proceedings are not admissible in court. Court tells SafeWork prosecutors to lift their game and resubmit its prosecution case.

By Michael Selinger on March 7th, 2019