Health and safety rights and obligations
Work health and safety obligations apply to everyone involved in a business. Ensure you meet your obligations by familiarising yourself with the laws and following them.
If you don't meet your work health and safety obligations, you are putting people's health and even their lives at risk. You are also breaking the law and you may face penalties or prosecution.
Read more about how work health and safety laws will affect your business.
Business owners and employers
If you operate a business, you are legally required to provide and maintain a safe and healthy workplace for yourself and your workers, volunteers, customers and visitors.
Work health and safety legislation requires you to:
- ensure safe systems of work
- ensure safe use and handling of goods and substances
- provide information, instruction, training and supervision to your workers to ensure they are safe
- assess risks and implement appropriate measures to manage and control them
- report notifiable incidents to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ)
- investigate incidents and take action to avoid having something similar happen again
- provide workers' compensation insurance.
Learn more about personal safety in the workplace.
Workers have work health and safety obligations to themselves and their workmates. As a worker, you must:
- comply with instructions given for work health and safety
- use personal protective equipment if your employer provides it and if you are properly trained to use it
- not wilfully or recklessly interfere with or misuse anything provided for work health and safety at the workplace
- not wilfully place others at risk
- not wilfully injure yourself.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) monitors work health and safety in Queensland businesses. WHSQ enforces work health and safety laws and conducts inspections and investigations to ensure employers and others are meeting their obligations.
To understand your obligations and safety requirements, you must be familiar with:
- Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act), which imposes obligations on people at workplaces to ensure work health and safety
- Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, which describes what must be done to prevent or control certain hazards which cause injury, illness or death
- work health and safety codes of practice, which are designed to give practical advice about ways to manage exposure to risks common to industry.
If there is a regulation that describes how to manage a risk in your business, you must follow it. In the case of a code of practice, duty holders must comply with an approved code of practice under the WHS Act or follow another method, such as a technical or an industry standard, if it provides an equivalent or higher standard of work health and safety to the standard required in this code. If there is no regulation or code of practice, you must take reasonable precautions and choose an appropriate way to minimise the risk.
WHSQ inspectors help employers to develop and improve work practices in the workplace. If you fail to meet your health and safety obligations, an improvement notice or prohibition notice may be issued. Read more about compliance and enforcement.
- Find out about workplace inspections.
- Find out about legal obligations when training staff.
- Last reviewed: 4 Jul 2019
- Last updated: 2 Apr 2020
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