Health and safety capabilities

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Improved work health and safety capabilities

What are health and safety capabilities?

Health and safety capabilities are the knowledge, skills and resources we all need to do our work safely. This action area aims to support the following:

  • Everyone in a workplace has the work health and safety capabilities they require.
  • Those providing work health and safety education, training and advice have the appropriate capabilities.
  • Inspectors and other staff of work health and safety regulators have the work health and safety capabilities to effectively perform their role.
  • Work health and safety skills development is integrated effectively into relevant education and training programs.

Why are health and safety capabilities important?

Australian Strategy activities in this Action Area focus on some key groups.

Young workers

Data shows that young people are at higher risk of work-related injury, for a range of reasons. Effective work health and safety training should occur at school, during vocational and higher education, workplace induction, and on the job.

This is an important part of providing young people with the knowledge, skills and experience to help protect themselves and their workmates.

Health and safety representatives

By representing workers in their work group, health and safety representatives (HSRs) provide an important means for workers to raise safety issues within their workplace, and follow a process with employers to resolve them.

It is an elected role for a period of three years and the HSR functions and powers are outlined in the model Work Health and Safety Act. HSRs are entitled to receive approved training to give them the skills and knowledge they need to perform their role effectively.

View frequently asked questions: training of health and safety representatives
View worker representation and participation guide

Leaders and managers

Anyone who owns or manages a business needs to know how to manage work health and safety risks. Managers and supervisors need the skills and knowledge to be able to identify hazards and put the right control measures in place. They also need to be able to communicate with workers and know when and how to get expert advice on work health and safety.

See also leadership and culture.

Work health and safety advisors

Businesses may use work health and safety advisors to provide information on work health and safety issues.

They include:

  • generalist health and safety professionals and practitioners
  • specialist advisors – for example: ergonomists, occupational hygienists, and lawyers.

The standards for the education and training of professionals are promoted and monitored by their professional bodies.

Specialised work

Where work is particularly hazardous, workers need specific skills and knowledge.

Some workplace activities require licences and other types of authorisations issued by the WHS regulator.

Examples of national activities

Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy Virtual Seminar Series


Certain types of work and facilities require licensing under the model Work Health and Safety Regulations. Safe Work Australia works with the work health and safety regulators to develop licensing criteria and agreed National Assessment Instruments for high risk work.

View more information on licensing

Health and safety capabilities case studies

Key resources and links


Questions should be emailed to

Quick links and Initiatives


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