Understanding Our WHS Legal Obligations

Workplace health and safety is everyone’s responsibility.

As we run a <insert nature of the business – e.g. Service> business, we have a legal responsibility called a “primary duty of care” to protect the health and safety of people – i.e. “workers” in our workplace. This includes people who work for us:-
  • Casually
  • Part-time
  • Full-time
  • Contractors
  • Volunteers, including Board & Committee members
  • Outworkers
  • Students on work experience
  • Members of the public while they are in our workplace
The effective management of work health and safety (WHS) demands knowledge of the basic legal requirements as outlined in the WHS legislation applicable to our national operations, being:
  • the Work Health & Safety Act 2011 (applicable for NSW, QLD, SA, Tasmania & the Territories)
  • the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Victoria), and
  • the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (Western Australia) 
and supporting Regulations and Codes of Practice.

The WHS legislation puts an obligation on a 'person conducting a business or undertaking' (PCBU) – i.e. <insert business name>. The PCBU has the primary duty of care under the legislation to ensure the safety of those people outlined above in their workplaces.

The 'primary duty of care' under clause 19 of the Act: In summary, a person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, (1) the health and safety of workers while the workers are at work in the business or undertaking; (2) and that the health and safety of 'other persons' is not put at risk from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking: clauses 19(1) and 19(2) of the Act.

Clause 27 of the WHS Act contains a duty of officers (an officer includes a person who makes decisions that affect the whole or a substantial part of the business; section 9 Corporations Act) to exercise due diligence to ensure that the business complies with its duties and obligations under the Act.
In order to adhere to our current obligations as required under the above noted legislation, our WHS documents are designed to encompass the following components:

• Policy and commitment;
• Responsibilities and accountabilities;
• Communication and consultation;
• Risk management; and
• Audit and review.

  Back to Work health and safety


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This document does not constitute human resource or legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should contact the HR Help Desk or seek professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content. © Wentworth Advantage Pty Ltd 2021