Managing safety

Work health and safety laws protect people from workplace injury, illness and disease apply in the ACT.

The laws apply to every workplace including offices, hospitals, schools, construction sites, farms, forests and vehicles. The legislative regime comprises of the following three formal elements:

The legislation is supported by the following non-legislative elements:

  • National and Australian standards; and
  • Guidance material.

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (the Act) provides an overall framework and describes the responsibilities or 'work safety duties' designed to ensure work health and safety.

The  Regulation provides further details regarding health and safety obligations in relation to specific hazards and risks such as the performance of manual tasks. Regulations have the force of law and must be adhered to. Failure to comply may result in an infringement notice or criminal penalty.

Codes of practice provide practical guidance on complying with legal duties. While it is not compulsory to follow a code of practice they are considered to be the minimum acceptable standard. Therefore if a person conducting a business or undertaking does not follow a code of practice they must ensure their work safety practice is equivalent or better. Codes of practice have formal status, allowing courts to consider compliance with a code of practice when deciding if legal duties have been met.

National standards and national codes of practice are developed by Safe Work Australia. Once adopted in each jurisdiction, they are then legally enforceable.

Australian standards are separate technical guides which may also assist a person to comply with a particular work safety duty.

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