The model WHS laws
Safe Work Australia is the national policy body responsible for the development and evaluation of the model WHS laws (the model laws), which are comprised of the:
The model laws have been developed for implementation by all jurisdictions (that is, the Commonwealth, states and territories). However, they do not apply in a jurisdiction unless the jurisdiction has separately taken action to implement the laws as their own WHS laws.
WHS laws in your jurisdiction
The Commonwealth, states and territories are responsible for implementing, regulating and enforcing WHS laws in their jurisdictions.
The Commonwealth, Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory and Queensland implemented the model WHS laws in their jurisdiction on 1 January 2012. South Australia and Tasmania implemented the model WHS laws on 1 January 2013. On 10 November 2020, Western Australia passed a version of the model laws, which became operational on 31 March 2022. Victoria is the only jurisdiction who has not implemented the model WHS laws.
In the jurisdictions where the model laws have been implemented, each state and territory is expected to make variations to ensure the laws operate effectively in their jurisdictions. In some instances, states and territories have also made more substantial variations. This is why it is important to make sure you always consider the WHS laws that apply in your state or territory.
The maximum monetary penalties comparison table summarises a sample of monetary penalties from the model WHS Act and the jurisdictions that have adopted the model WHS Act. It also includes a table summarising equivalent penalties in Victoria’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (2004).
Amendments to the model WHS laws
The model laws are amended from time to time. Amendments to the model laws do not automatically apply in a jurisdiction. For an amendment to the model WHS Act apply in a jurisdiction, it must be passed by the Parliament of the jurisdiction and subsequently enacted. For an amendment to the model WHS Regulations to apply in a jurisdiction, it must be made by the person who makes regulations for that jurisdiction.
You can seek advice from the jurisdictional WHS regulator about whether amendments to the model laws have been implemented in that jurisdiction.
Information about jurisdictional WHS regulators, their WHS laws and who to contact is listed below.