Jurisdictional progress on the model work health and safety laws

This table summarises key policy changes made by jurisdictions in implementing the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws developed by Safe Work Australia.

  • The model WHS laws have not been implemented in Victoria or Western Australia. Western Australia however is currently consulting on options for implementing elements of the model.
  • This table does not cover administrative differences between jurisdictions (e.g. names of courts, tribunals, interaction with local laws), simple differences in drafting or any matters that fall within the ‘jurisdictional notes’.
View table full screen
Jurisdiction Legislation Date
Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act 2011 1 January

No material variations.
Note: The Commonwealth jurisdiction is different from the others, and the laws need to deal with potential overlap with state/territory WHS laws. In general the Cth WHS laws:

  • apply to businesses and undertakings of the Commonwealth, Commonwealth public authorities and Non-Commonwealth licensees—including if the work is carried out overseas
  • require Commonwealth duty holders to consult, co-operate and co-ordinate activities with other state/territory-based businesses that have a duty under a corresponding state-based WHS law, and
  • make special provision to deal with national security, defence and AFP operations.
For more information on features unique to the Commonwealth jurisdiction see Consultation Paper—Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Bill 2011.
Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 1 January
Creates a new, transitional entitlement to bridging training for Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) (reg 21).
Australian Capital Territory Work Health and Safety Act 2011 1 January
  • ​Amended s 274(2) to facilitate adoption of the ACT asbestos regulation and enable the Minister to approve codes of practice for the management, control or removal of asbestos or asbestos containing material.
Australian Capital Territory Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 1 January
  • ​Omits model Chapters on hazardous chemicals and Major Hazard Facilities, instead preserving arrangements under the Dangerous Substances Act 2004and Regulations. Except:
    • 30 September 2014—prescribes VET course Asbestos Awareness, for certain workers that work with or may work with asbestos
    • 31 October 2014—requires notification of ‘demolition of a structure or part of a structure that contains, or has contained, loose-fill asbestos insulation’
    • 31 October 2014—requires licensed asbestos removalists to give written notice at least 5 days before commencing work on a structure, or part of a structure, that contains, or has contained, loose-fill asbestos insulation, and
    • 3 December 2014—adds model asbestos regulations subject to transitional arrangements and several changes:
      • An appropriately licensed asbestos removalist is required for the removal of all asbestos or asbestos-containing material (ACM)—that is, there is no exception for work involving 10 square metres or less. The only exception to this will be if the removal is non-friable asbestos or asbestos containing dust incidental to ‘minor or routine maintenance work, or other minor work’.
      • replacing references to ‘competent person’ with ‘licensed asbestos assessor’ to clarify that all asbestos assessment, clearance inspections and air monitoring must be provided by a licensed asbestos assessor, and
      • requiring that a person with management or control of a workplace must assume asbestos is present if an approved warning sign is present (e.g. this will be the case if the premises is known to have contained loose fill asbestos).
      • Special requirements in relation to loose-fill asbestos insulation address the Territory’s ‘Mr Fluffy’ legacy.
  • Creates additional infringeable offences under the construction chapter—in response to the Getting Home Safely Inquiry.
New South Wales Work Health and Safety Act 2011 1 January 2012. Laws relating to officers' due diligence duties took effect in June 2011 Note: The laws in NSW deal with co-regulatory arrangements as there are two regulators for WHS – one for mining and another for all other workplaces.
  • Clarifies relationship with mines inspectorate (s 162A).
  • Enables union prosecutions of Category 1 or 2 offences—but only if WorkCover NSW has declined advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute (s 230(3)).
  • Enables prosecutions to be brought by an Australian legal practitioner on behalf of an authorised person (s 230(1A)).
  • Eases requirements for information sharing between the general WHS regulator in NSW and NSW Mines and Coal WHS regulators (s 271A).
New South Wales Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 1 January
  • Enhanced security requirements for Major Hazard Facilities (MHFs)—including requirements for MHF operators to consult with, and have regard to the advice of, NSW Police (reg 558A).
  • View information on transitional arrangements.
Northern Territory Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 1 January
​No material variations.
Northern Territory Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Regulations 1 January
​View information on transitional arrangements.
Queensland Work Health and Safety Act 2011 1 January 2012
  • Omits HSRs’ power to direct unsafe work cease.
  • Requires HSRs to give 24 hours’ notice of an assistant’s entry plus prescribed information (ss 68(3A) – (3C), 71(5A)).
  • Omits the requirement to provide the regulator with an up-to-date list of HSRs (s 74).
  • Requires WHS entry permit holders to provide 24 hours’ notice of entry to inquire into a suspected WHS contravention (ss 119, 143A).
  • Requires WHS entry permit holders seeking entry to consult and advise workers to give notice to both the relevant PCBU and the person with management or control of the workplace (s 122(1)).
  • Prescribes a process for the disqualification of HSRs (Subdn 4A, Part 5).
  • Omits the pre-requisite for tripartite consultation before a code of practice can be made, varied or revoked for purposes of the Act (s 274).
Queensland Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 1 January 2012
  • ​ Adds notice and information requirements for HSRs proposing to bring an assistant on-site (reg 20A).
  • Enables the regulator to keep a public register of high risk work licensees and accredited assessors for high risk work (s 141A).
  • Omits audiometric testing regulations.
  • Includes pre-existing arrangements for demolition licensing (regs 143 – 144ZC).
  • Omits Part 4.7 (Electricity), instead making provision under the Electrical Safety Act 2002 (Qld) and Regulations.
  • Requires additional information in safe work method statements dealing with risks of falls over two metres—if only PPE or administrative controls are to be used (reg 299(4)).
  • Prescribes additional risk controls for construction work involving:
    • risk of falls and falling objects (regs  306B to 306J and 315B to 315M)
    • using ladders and platforms (regs 306K to 306O), and
    • erecting and dismantling scaffolding (regs 306P and 306Q).
  • Prescribes additional standards for amenities (e.g. toilets, meal areas, drinking water and washing facilities) for ‘construction projects’ (reg 315A, Sch 5A).
  • Requires asbestos registers to be kept for buildings constructed before 31 December 1989 rather than 31 December 2003 as mandated by the model (reg 425 and 447).
  • Streamlines the Class B asbestos removal licence requirements by:
    • exempting sole traders from the requirement to have a supervisor readily available (reg 459(b), 529(b))
    • omitting requirements to formally nominate a supervisor to the regulator and use a nominated supervisor (regs 494, 466(4)(b), 507(1), 518, 520(1)(b), (2))
    • removing additional certification requirements for supervisors(regs 494, 499, 518)—prescribed competencies for ordinary workers suffice
    • enabling any person with certification for the specified VET course for Class A or Class B asbestos removal work to carry out a clearance inspection for Class B removal work, and
    • allowing a person to carry out a clearance inspection if they were not involved in the removal of asbestos subject to the inspection (n.b. the model requires this to be done by a separate business) (see definition of ‘independent’).
  • Enables inspectors to direct clean-up of asbestos removal sites if a clearance certificate has been issued, but the site is not free of visible asbestos contamination (reg 474A).
  • View information on transitional arrangements.
South Australia Work Health and Safety Act 2012 1 January 2013
  • ​ Clarifies the duty to manage health and safety risks only applies to the extent the person has capacity to influence and control the matter (s 17(2)).
  • Prescribes who may be an HSR’s assistant, that is—another worker at the workplace, a person involved in the management of the relevant business or undertaking or a consultant who has been approved by one of the specified persons or bodies (section 68(4)).
  • Increases HSRs’ training entitlement to 3 and 2 days’ training during the second and third year in the role respectively. If re-elected, all training entitlements can be re-taken as if they had no training at all (s 72(9)).
  • Requires WHS entry permit holders to notify the regulator of proposed entry if reasonably practicable, and to report-back to the regulator in accordance with the regulations if unaccompanied by an inspector during entry (ss 117(3)and (6))).
  • Makes WHS entry permit holders’ rights to require copies of documents subject to direction by an inspector (if any) (ss 118(2)(a), 120(6)).
  • Retains the privilege against self-incrimination during health and safety investigations (s 172).
  • Requires the Small Business Commissioner to be consulted in relation to proposed codes of practice (including variations) that would affect small business if implemented. Any recommendations may be implemented, by-passing the tripartite consultation process that would otherwise apply (s 274(3)).
  • An approved Code of Practice is subject to disallowance by the South Australian Parliament (s 274(8).
South Australia Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 1 January 2013
  • ​Prescribes notice and reporting requirements in relation to WHS entry permit holders’ entry under section 117 of the WHS Act (regs 28(2) and (3)).
  • Requires safe work method statements to address risks of a person falling more than 3 metres (not the 2 metres specified in the model) (reg 291(a)).
  • Extends air monitoring requirements for Class A asbestos removal work to Class B asbestos removal as well, until 1 January 2017.
Tasmania Work Health and Safety Act 2012 1 January 2013 ​No material variations.
Tasmania Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 1 January 2013 ​View information on transitional arrangements.  
Western Australia Work Health and Safety Bill 2014 (PDF)

The Minister for Commerce has tabled the Bill in parliament and announced the opening of a public comment period for this draft legislation.

Public comment is open until 30 January 2015

Victoria Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (PDF) The Victorian Government announced it would delay harmonisation. For further information visit WorkSafe Victoria The Victorian Government has confirmed that it will not be implementing the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws in their current form. WorkSafe continues to enforce Victoria's existing occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation. This means that Victoria's workplaces need to refer to Victoria's codes and guidance materials for information about how to comply with Victoria's OHS legislation. For further information, please visit worksafe.vic.gov.au.

Questions should be emailed to info@swa.gov.au.

Quick links and Initiatives


Information Publication Scheme FOI Disclosure Log

Bottom navigation