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Work health and safety laws

Work health and safety laws aim to protect the health, safety and welfare of all workers at work. The laws also protect the health and safety of all other people who might be affected by the work.

Queensland’s work health and safety legal framework  includes:

  • the Work Health and Safety Act 2011
  • the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
  • codes of practice.

This information will give you an overview of the law, and help you understand your health and safety duties and rights in the workplace.

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) sets out requirements and standards for building healthy and safe workplaces. It outlines what you must do to protect the health, safety and welfare of workers and other people in a place of work.

It also puts legal obligations, or duties, on you and your workers.

Purpose

The WHS Act aims to:

  • reduce risks in a place of work
  • make sure work health and safety issues are dealt with and resolved fairly
  • help businesses and workers achieve a healthier and safer working environment
  • promote work health and safety advice, information, education and training
  • have effective ways for this law to be followed and enforced
  • improve health and safety standards.

Who's responsible?

The Act places the primary health and safety duty on the business owner or employerreferred to in the Act as a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU).

The business owner must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers at the workplace.

This means doing what you are reasonably able to do to ensure the health and safety of workers and others like volunteers and visitors.

Duties, or responsibilities, are also placed on managers, supervisors and, workers at a workplace.

Learn more about workers' rights and responsibilities.

Who's covered?

All workers are protected by the Act including:

  • employees
  • contractors
  • subcontractors
  • outworkers
  • apprentices and trainees
  • work experience students
  • volunteers
  • employers who perform work.

The general public is also protected, so that their health and safety isn’t put at risk by work activities.

What's included?

The WHS Act covers work health and safety definitions and duties.

It also sets out the requirements for:

Guide to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011

We've developed a Guide to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011(PDF, 0.32 MB), which will help you understand your health and safety duties and rights in the workplace.

The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 provides detailed information on how to prevent or minimise risks in your place of work.

Managing risks

If you’re doing business in Queensland, you must take reasonable steps to eliminate or minimise risks and put in place an effective risk management process.

Provisions in the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (like the Act) are legally enforceable.

Learn more about managing risks.

Exemptions to the regulation

The WHS Regulation allows the regulator to grant an exemption from compliance with any provision of the WHS Regulation. When considering granting an exemption, the regulator will consider whether the alternative agreed course of action would provide at least an equivalent level of health and safety to that achieved by complying with the WHS Regulation.

View current exemptions and find out more.

The Act and the Regulation are supported by codes of practice that give practical advice on how to meet your work health and safety responsibilities.

If you are conducting a business in Queensland, you must comply with an approved code of practice under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

You can use another method, such as a technical or an industry standard, to manage hazards and risks—as long as it provides an equivalent or higher standard of work health and safety to the standard required in the code.

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