What is WHS & Why is it Important in Australia

Many business owners, like you, believe that workplace safety and health (WHS), is only relevant for certain types of businesses or employers with a minimum size business.

WHS is more important than people realize. There are many laws and regulations in Australia that were created to ensure that businesses do everything possible to protect employees and allow everyone to return home safely at night.

It is essential to understand WHS and its importance in order to make work environments safer for all. This blog focuses on this topic.

Let’s get started!

What is WHS?

WHS stands for Workplace Health & Safety.

WHS must adhere to three core objectives in order to be successful.

They are:

  • Hazard Identification – Identifying or spotting any process or object that could cause harm at work.
  • Risk Assessment – Analysing the likelihood of hazards causing injury to workers and to what extent.
  • Prevention, elimination, and reduction of hazards and risks – Measures taken to reduce, eliminate, and/or reduce workplace hazards and their risk

What is the difference between OHS and WHS?

OHS stands first for Occupational Safety and Health.

WHS and OHS are terms that are widely used in Australia to refer to safety and health in the workplace. They are often used interchangeably, so there is no real difference.

Here’s the deal:

WHS is the new term for OHS in Australia. This was due to the 2011 harmonised WHS laws that Safe Work Australia developed. OHS laws used to be unique to each state.

WHS is therefore an Australia-wide policy which provides uniform guidelines for a safe workplace. WHS Regulations and the WHS Act give States and Territorial governments authority to promote uniform safety and health laws across the country.

WHS legislation in Australia

Workplace safety and health are Australian legal requirements. WHS legislation is based upon a harm minimisation approach – each employer is responsible for identifying workplace risks and implementing measures to reduce them.

Safe Work Australia has created a single set of WHS laws for Australia. These laws are called model laws. These laws cannot be made binding until they are ratified by all states and territories.

These are the WHS model laws:

  • The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 provides an Australian-wide framework for protecting workers’ health and safety.
  • The Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 sets out the requirements to fulfil the WHS Act’s duties. It also outlines administrative or procedural requirements that support the WHS Act.
  • Model codes of practice – These guides provide practical guidance on how to meet the standards set forth in the WHS Act.

WHS Implementation in Australia

WHS is multi-sectoral and includes a variety of professionals and professional organizations.

These are the major stakeholders in WHS implementation and enforcement in Australia.

  • Safe Work Australia maintains the WHS model laws but doesn’t regulate or enforce them.
  • COMCARE, which stands for “The Commission for the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation of Commonwealth Employees”, is responsible for the administration of the WHS Act and Regulations. This framework ensures that employees in Australia are safe, rehabilitated, and compensated.
  • The WHS laws state that the PCBU (“person running a business”) is responsible to ensure the safety and health of employees they employ while performing their duties.
  • Standards Association of Australia – Develops uniform standards for equipment, procedures and design.
  • The various government departments in the different states and territories enforce and promote safety and health in work environments.
  • Others – Trade Unions, employer and employee associations.

Who is responsible to ensure WHS at work?

WHS is known for being confusing, complicated, and even scary to business owners. This often comes with uncertainty about who is responsible.

Who is responsible for safety and health at work in Australia? The employer or the employee? Or the employee? Or the government?

The solution is:

Everyone is responsible for workplace safety and health (WHS). Public members are also responsible.

Workplace Health and Safety,” as the name implies, is concerned with workers’ safety and health.

No matter what type of business you have, WHS must be implemented in your workplace according to Australian law.

These are the WHS obligations

Employers Obligation

WHS laws state that it is the sole responsibility of the employer to provide a safe work environment.

These are the responsibilities

  • Regular and prompt maintenance of tools, machines, and plants
  • Eliminating, if possible, total elimination or prevention of hazards
  • Provisions for adequate worker training, sensitisation, and supervision
  • Ensuring regular work breaks
  • Safe processes for handling, transporting, using, and storing substances, equipment, and working tools are designed and implemented
  • Conflict resolution and investigation into incidents

Workers Obligations

Workers have a duty to ensure that WHS laws are followed at work. Workers should be aware that their actions could have an impact on WHS’s effectiveness.

Workers should in any case:

  • Do not be negligent in your duties
  • Do not misuse or interfere with substances or processes that are related to their work.
  • Take care of your personal safety and health.
  • They should be aware of the consequences of their actions on others’ safety and health.
  • Notify your employer if there is a danger, risk, or concern about you, your job, or the workplace.
  • To ensure the success of WHS, employees must cooperate with their employers to the extent that it is allowed by law.

WHS is important

It is no secret that safety and health at work are vital. If you place profit above the well-being of your employees, you could be in serious trouble. Your company could be held responsible for an accident that occurs at work.

Why is WHS so important? You’ll find out why WHS is so important below.

WHS works to prevent accidents and other incidents in the workplace. Employers and employees alike can benefit from this approach and get the most from their efforts and time. WHS can be described as a time-saving and productivity improvement.

A well-executed WHS program can also help employers save money on costs such as paying for accidents, rehabilitation and compensation.

Every year, Australia records hundreds of work-related deaths. According to some sources, workplace deaths account for 15% of all deaths in Australia. Injuries and illnesses can add up to thousands. This causes a lot of suffering, pain, emotional trauma, and another human suffering. WHS strives to dramatically reduce or eliminate these.

WHS saves lives, prevents injuries and illnesses, and helps businesses make more. It is hard to find a more important thing.. and you will too.

What is the consequence of non-compliance with WHS laws

As with all laws, WHS laws can be violated and there are consequences. Depending on the severity of the incident or negligence, non-compliance can lead to fines and imprisonment. Non-compliance can also lead to workers’ compensation.

Important Note: WHS penalties for non-compliance vary from one state to the next in Australia.

Compliance is essential. A WHS management system that works is a way to protect yourself and your employees.

It can be difficult to meet all WHS regulations, laws and standards. Kiri Align has an effective WHS Management system that is designed to help you do it right and get the best results.

Employers can use Spire Safety to plan, manage, and review their workplace safety and health performance, while also ensuring compliance with Australian WHS laws.

Even better, our Workplace Safety and Health Management System uses a combination approach that includes employers, employees, regulators, and other stakeholders to assess, manage, and identify workplace risks. This allows everyone to work together and creates a seamless experience that doesn’t break any workflows.

Take precautions – learn how Spire Safety can prevent accidents and keep you safe today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these <abbr title="HyperText Markup Language">HTML</abbr> tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


Contact Us