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The Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022 (the Strategy) was launched on 31 October 2012 and an updated version republished in April 2018. With its vision of ‘healthy, safe and productive working lives’ it is a high level, forward-looking document capable of being implemented by governments, unions, industry and other organisations across Australia.

The Strategy was developed after nearly two years of consultation with WHS regulators, governments, unions, employer organisations, industry groups, safety organisations and the general public. It is underpinned by two key principles:

  • All workers regardless of their occupation or how they are engaged have the right to a healthy and safe working environment.
  • Well-designed healthy and safe work will allow workers in Australia to have more productive working lives.

The Strategy was updated in April 2018 following the scheduled mid-term review. The amendments are listed and incorporated in the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022.

Three national targets

The Strategy sets three national targets to be achieved by 2022:

  • A reduction in the number of worker fatalities due to injury of at least 20%.
  • A reduction in the incidence rate of claims resulting in one or more weeks off work of at least 30%.
  • A reduction in the incidence rate of claims for musculoskeletal disorders resulting in one or more weeks off work of at least 30%.

How these targets will be measured during the life of the Strategy is explained in Measuring progress towards targets: reducing the incidence of work-related death, injury and illness.

National action areas

The Strategy has a range of national priority areas that together set the framework for a nationally coordinated effort to achieve its vision and targets.

There are seven action areas:

  • healthy and safe by design
  • supply chains and networks
  • health and safety capabilities
  • leadership and culture
  • research and evaluation
  • government
  • responsive and effective regulatory framework.

Priority industries

Seven national priority industries have been chosen for prevention activities due to their high rates of injury and/or fatalities:

  • agriculture
  • road transport
  • manufacturing
  • construction
  • accommodation and food services
  • public administration and safety
  • health care and social assistance.

View the set of WHS snapshots which  provide an insight into the key national data and WHS issues of seven industries.

Priority conditions

There are six priority work-related conditions based on the severity of consequences for workers:

  • musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)
  • mental health conditions
  • cancers (including skin cancer and asbestos-related cancers)
  • occupational lung diseases
  • contact dermatitis, and
  • noise-induced hearing loss.

Stay up-to-date

National Occupational Health and Safety Strategy 2002–2012

The Strategy builds on the previous National Occupational Health and Safety Strategy 2002­-2012. Under this Strategy, Australia made significant progress in improving WHS outcomes, including a 41% reduction in the  fatality rate and 26% reduction in the work-related injuries rate during its life.

The final Triennial review of the National OHS Strategy outlines a range of actions implemented at the national, state and territory levels to support the desired outcomes, and this was a key input into the development of the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022. A separate information sheet outlines the progress against the national fatality and injury targets in the National OHS Strategy.

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