Work Health & Safety

Australian Work Health & Safety law, or WHS, addresses both design and workplace, or occupational, safety.  It imposes duties upon designers, manufacturers, and importers of plant, structures and substances.

The WHS legislation has a powerful and elegant approach, and it yields a lot of useful content, whether you are in an Australian jurisdiction or not. It is based on the UK’s approach to health and safety at work, but it has incorporated lessons learned from four decades of experience there.

However, Australia’s federal system complicates the application of our laws. The Safety Artisan will attempt to cut through this complexity and explain the core concepts needed for practical success.

Posts on the Work Health & Safety Act

You can find instructional materials – videos and text – about the WHS Act here:

  • Equipped: Guide to WHS. In this video lesson, The Safety Artisan presents Equipped: Guide to WHS. We look at key aspects of the Australian Work Health & Safety Act, notably what ‘reasonably practicable’ means, the Primary Duty of Care and the concept of Due Diligence. We also provide value-adding commentary and explain the issues with WHS – how to do it well and avoid the pitfalls.
  • Introduction to the WHS Act, Part 1. Talking about the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act in Australia, and its relevance to what we’re talking about here on the Safety Artisan – Safety Engineering. It’s important to answer that question first: the “So what” test. Many people think that the WHS Act is only applicable to safety in the workplace, so they see it as purely an occupational health and safety Piece of legislation. BUT IT ISN’T!
  • Introduction to the WHS Act, Part 2. I’m calling this an unofficial guide for system or design safety practitioners (whatever you want to call yourselves). I’m looking at the WHS Act from the point of view of system safety and design safety, as opposed to managing the workplace – although it does that as well. In the short video (Part 1) I looked at the primary duty of care and the duty particularly we look at the duty of designers. In this video, Part 2, we’re going to look at much more than that!

The Model WHS Act

Australian WHS legislation, as enforced by the Federal Government (“the Commonwealth”), States and Territories, was developed from Model legislation by Safe Work Australia.

The posts listed (below) contain selected excerpts from Safe Work Australia’s ‘Guide to the model Work Health and Safety Act‘; all quotations are from the pdf version of that document [ISBN 978-0-642-78409-4]. I have included those parts that are relevant to system safety or design safety. I have excluded those parts that refer only to the management of workplace safety, AKA occupational health and safety.

  • INTRODUCTION – [post]
  • WHS REGULATIONS AND CODES OF PRACTICE ETC. – [post]
  • DEFINITIONS – [post]
  • WORK HEALTH AND SAFETY DUTIES – [post]
  • THE REGULATOR, INSPECTORS AND ENFORCEMENT – [post]
  • OFFENCES AND PENALTIES [Deliberately excluded. I don’t like trying to teach safety through fear, as it often results in poor performance and/or bad behaviours.]
  • GLOSSARY AND MORE INFORMATION – [see ‘Definitions‘]

Safe Work Australia provides guidance with the following disclaimer: “The materials presented in this publication are distributed by Safe Work Australia as an information source only. The information and data in this publication are subject to change without notice. Safe Work Australia makes no statements, representations, or warranties about the accuracy or completeness of, and you should not rely on, any information contained in this publication. Safe Work Australia disclaims all responsibility and all liability (including without limitation liability in negligence) for all expenses, losses, damages and costs you might incur as a result of the information being inaccurate or incomplete in any way, and for any reason. This publication was produced by Safe Work Australia using information originally developed by Work Health and Safety Queensland and WorkSafe Victoria.”

The Safety Artisan reproduces this guidance under these licence terms.

Comparing Australian WHS & UK HSAW (‘The BREXIT Special’)

Are you a safety professional thinking of emigrating from the UK to Australia?  Well, I’ve done it and here’s my BREXIT special guide!  In this 45-minute video, The Safety Artisan looks at the similarities and differences between British and Australian safety practices.  This should also help Aussies thinking of heading over to work the UK and even, dare I say it, to the EU!

  • The video and key points here; and
  • The full transcript of the video, here.
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