Workplace Health and Safety (WHS), often referred to as Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) involves the assessment and migration of risks that may impact the health, safety or welfare of those in your workplace. This may include the health and safety of your customers, employees, visitors, contractors, volunteers and suppliers. As a business owner there are legal requirements that you must comply with to ensure your workplace meets WHS obligations.
Creating a safe work environment is a legal requirement and critical to the long term success of your business.
Before 2012, workplace health and safety (WHS) laws were known as Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) laws. These laws differed across Australian states and territories. To make the laws more consistent across Australia, in 2012 the state and territory governments agreed to develop model laws (WHS Act and Regulations), on which they could base their health and safety laws.
Find out more about the model work health and safety laws on the Safe Work Australia website.
As a business owner you have legal responsibilities to implement health and safety practices in your workplace as soon as you start your business. You need to ensure that your business doesn’t create health and safety problems for your employees, contractors, volunteers, visitors, customers or the public.
Knowing and understanding WHS laws and how they apply to business will help you avoid unnecessary costs and damage to your business caused by workplace injury and illness.
Under Australian WHS/OH&S legislation businesses are legally obliged to:
Though it may cost to implement safe practices and install safety equipment, the effect of not taking action can be severe and costly. Complying with WHS requirements can prevent you from being prosecuted and fined, and help you to retain skilled staff.
Your legal obligations may vary according to circumstances and industry. You may wish to seek independent legal advice on what is applicable to your situation.