The role and influence you have in a business determines if you are an ‘officer’ under WHS laws. This is different for each person and each business.
- Are you the owner or operator of a small business?
- Do you make big decisions about all or part of your business?
- Can you affect your business’s financial standing?
If you are in a small business and you’re not sure if you are an officer, watch our short video Who is an officer - understanding your responsibilities or take a look at our Who is an officer? information.
As an officer, you must exercise due diligence to ensure your business meets its WHS duties. This includes:
- making sure your workers and other persons are protected against harm, and
- making sure your business has suitable safe work systems in place.
It is important that you know you are legally responsible for doing these things under WHS laws.
How you can meet your officer duty
Here are some ways you can meet your officer duty. This will help make sure your business protects workers and others against harm to health and safety.
- Keep your WHS knowledge up-to-date.
- Understand your business and its WHS hazards and risks.
- Make sure your business is properly resourced to manage WHS risks, and check that the resources are being used.
- Make sure your business has reporting processes for incidents, hazards and other WHS issues, and check that these processes are being followed.
What if I don’t meet my duty?
Unless you are a volunteer, you can be prosecuted if you fail to meet your duty as an officer. This can happen even if there hasn’t been an incident at your workplace, or the business has not been held liable.
You can find more information on the officer duty in the health and safety duty of an officer guidance.
- The health and safety duty of an officer
- The Essential Guide to Work Health and Safety for Organisations that Engage Volunteers
Officers in small business
This document provides guidance on the interpretation and application of section 27 of the Work Health and Safety Act, including who will be an 'officer' and what it will mean for them.
You may have a duty as an ‘officer’ under work health and safety laws if you make or influence the significant financial or operational decisions of the business.
This information sheet will help you to learn whether you may be an ‘officer’ under work health and safety laws.