Work Health and Safety legislation

In Queensland, the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, and industry specific Codes of Practice set out the minimum rules for managing health and safety in a workplace.

If a risk at your workplace isn’t covered by the Act, a regulation or Code of Practice then you must choose an appropriate way to manage exposure to the risk.

Work Health and Safety Act 2011

The Work Health & Safety Act 2011 provides a framework for protecting the health and safety of all workers at work. All people in your workplace are protected by the WHS Act, including:

  • Employees
  • Subcontractors
  • Apprentices, trainees and students
  • Volunteers
  • Employers who perform work.

The WHS Act sets out requirements for:

  • Primary duties of care
  • Offences and penalties, including industrial manslaughter
  • Incident notification
  • Consultation with workers, including committees and health and safety representatives (HSRs)
  • Issue resolution
  • Inspector powers and functions

The WHS Act places the primary health and safety duty on a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) and their officers. These duties must be complied with ‘as far as reasonably practicable’.

Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011

The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 describes how to prevent or minimise a risk at your workplace, and how to comply with your duty of care for certain activities. It has specific provisions that apply only to the construction industry, including:

  • When you must have a WHS Management Plan in place
  • When you must prepare safe work method statements
  • Specific control measures for preventing falls from heights, undertaking excavations and the use of ladders and scaffolding.
  • When you need a General Safety Induction (GSI).

You must do follow the WHS regulation and, if the work you’re doing isn’t covered in the WHS Regulation, you should check to see if it’s covered by a Code of Practice.

Codes of Practice

A codes of practice provides practical guidance for people undertaking certain types of work. It includes information on how to achieve the standards required under the WHS Act and effective ways to identify and manage risks.

If a code of practice exists for the type of work you’re undertaking, you must comply with it or choose a method (control measure) that provides equal or better protection than the provisions in the Code of Practice.

If the work you’re doing isn’t covered by a code of practice, you need to manage the risk ‘as far as is reasonably practicable’.

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