Work Health and Safety

We are responsible for the Commonwealth’s Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act). The WHS Act applies to the Commonwealth, public authorities and a small number of companies (non-Commonwealth licensees).

Work health and safety (WHS) law in Australia is legislated and regulated separately by each of Australia’s state, territory, and Commonwealth jurisdictions. WHS laws are largely harmonised across the jurisdictions through a set of uniform laws (the model WHS laws). All jurisdictions other than Victoria have adopted the model WHS laws. Victoria has similar duties and responsibilities under its Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic).

The Commonwealth works closely with the states and territories through Safe Work Australia to develop and maintain the model WHS laws. The model WHS laws are comprised of the model Work Health and Safety Act, model Regulations and model Codes of Practice.

State and territory WHS regulators are each responsible for enforcing and regulating their jurisdiction’s WHS laws. In the Commonwealth jurisdiction, the regulator is Comcare.

Meetings of Workplace Health and Safety Ministers

Ministers responsible for WHS from the Commonwealth and each state and territory meet to discuss and advance WHS matters of national importance.

Communiqués from past meetings:

Documents and a computer screen

Recent updates

On 1 April 2023, new WHS regulations on managing psychosocial hazards at work came into effect in the Commonwealth jurisdiction. These regulations provide greater clarity on the existing requirement to manage psychosocial risks under the WHS Act. Duty holders must manage risks to both physical and psychological health, so far as is reasonably practicable. A range of guidance and information to support both businesses and workers to understand the new regulations is available on Comcare’s website.