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The key objectives of the Act

Every country or territory has set up a Work Health and Safety Act, the norms and conditions of which are to be strictly adhered by all the corporate houses, companies and factories operating in that very country. The Act aims at ensuring a proper balance and setting out a national framework for full-fledged security relating to the health and safety of the workers. This relates to proper environmental conditional in the workplace where these workers are engaged performing their duties (Johnstone and Tooma, 2012).

Mainly taking of Australia, studies have estimated that nearly 1.5 million workers are found working under conditions exposed to carcinogens resulting into 10% of such workers(especially males) getting contaminated with life-risking cancer. Few examples being farm workers who face thrice a greater risk of encountering death while working with chemicals in their field; journalists facing life threat for conducting investigative reporting and others (Arntz-Gray, 2016). The government report shows that approximately $34 billion have been spent by the workplace authorities for treating and compensating the loss of their workers who face such unforeseen situations in life with few succumbing to death and few undergoing amputation.

Such studies have made it mandatory to ensure that all the work zones strictly follow the guidelines set forth by the Work Health and Safety Act which aims at protecting all the workers (including the employee and employers) in the organization from suffering any treat to their health, safety and welfare by taking up effective measure to promote the condition of the workplace (Johnstone and Tooma, 2012).

Besides these, the objectives push the authority for organizing seminars, talk shows or training programs for educating and making the workers aware of their safety concerns a both for their future prospect as well as for the organization. The objectives of the Act also makes it mandatory for the person/persons holding the authority of the company to ensure and conduct thorough surveys to scrutinize and make sure that there are no existing risks threating the safety and health of the workers working under their organization. Subsection(1)(a) of the Work Health and Safety Act further states that employers must make sure that the workers are given the highest level of protection against every possible harm and threat to their health, welfare and safety resulting from particular chemical or environmental condition prevailing in the firm or factory (Arntz-Gray, 2016).

The duties of employers and employees under the Act

It is seen that while the duties of the employer guided in the OHS Act of 2011 followed is more-or-less similar to OHS Act regulations which were guarded in 1985; some changes have been amended to the definition of Health (Gewin, 2014).  According to the WHS, “Health” now refers to problems relating physical and psychological health. This states that the employer now bears authority to safeguard instances as bullying, fatigue and stress arising anywhere from workplace hazards. Among all of those who are directed in the WHS, the duties of the employers are considered most important. Before talking about the roles in particular which are to be followed by the employees, employers, and other officials; it is important to study the guidelines envisaged in Section 20 of the OHS Act (Combined mandatory rule 42 and reg 176 for all lawyers, 2011).

Section 20 of the Act explicitly mentions that the clear sense of health and safety deals with the employees and employers being aware of their duties to avoid life risking situations. Upon encountering such risks; it is their obligation to take up measures for eliminating or minimizing such risks (Occupational health and safety ("OHS") injunctions under section 198 of the Workers Compensation Act ("Act"), 2011). The sole duties of the employers have been stated in Section 21, 22, and 23 of the act. Section 21 directs the employer’s duty to use reasonably safe equipment in their firm, train the employees about the usage of such machines, ensure adequate facility for washroom, lockers, canteen areas, hospitality and first aid.

Section 22 invests the employers with the duty of monitoring health conditions of their employees to know the problems they are facing due to the work-condition exposure and make them aware of the person whom to call for when willing to lodge a complaint about any uncertain health condition (Dealing with redundancy as an employer, 2013). This section of the Act also calls for the employer’s duty to keep a track of their employee’s past medical records to avoid an unforeseen situation. The last section i.e. Section 23 dealing with the duties of the employer states the employers responsibility to make a note that none of the organizational activities cause harm to the society. Besides this; it is the employers' duty to prepare and publish reports about the safety and health conditions prevailing in their workplace for the sake of their employees.

Coming to the employees; they are also required to adhere to certain rules and regulations set for them by the WHS Act. This act states that as a worker; it is their responsibility to take sufficient care of their safety measures and health while getting engaged in duties. It also states that none of their acts should cause harm to either their colleagues or organization. If a person conducting the business asks them to make certain changes in their activity with which they were appointed; a simple compliance for the same is expected allowing that very person to follow the regulations of WHS (2009 WHS Meeting Abstract Author Index, 2009). The Act provides them with the power to quit task at any point when they find the same is affecting their health and safety.

The purpose of consultation, representation and participation and how this is conducted in the workplace

Part 5 of the WHS act asks the employers consult with their worker who is directly affected by the health and safety matters regarding the same so far as it is reasonably practical (Simpson and Clifton, 2014). The duty of consultation is directed to be based on the recognition and welfare of the worker's participation for improving and ensuring better decision making in a matter concerning the safety and health measures related to the workplace. It is found that employers often wonder why it is mandatory to include workers in their meeting health and safety meetings (Rosen, 2000). WHS states that consultation is part of a legal requirement which is equally important for proper management of the security and health norms relating to a workplace.

Healthy  & safe work environment can be achieved easily when all the people involved in an organization are well consulted and gives in active participation for the identification of matter causing hazards to their health and safety along with the formulation of effective measures to eliminate or minimize them (PÅ«raitÄ— and DeviatnikovaitÄ—, 2013). Cases taken up for consultation might range from workers factors like work overload, shift work, organization climatic change, physical environment and interpersonal relationships. 

Apart from this; include better awareness and work commitment among the workers as they realize their value to their employer and active work relation between the employer and employee (Yoganandan and Sivasamy, 2015). These altogether bring about a positive turn for the overall functioning of the organization and its step towards success. 


The role of HR in the implementation of the OHS and Act in the workplace

The role of Human Resource personals has been recognized extensively for ensuring adequate and efficient employee health and safety. Every organization has certain legal, ethical and business norms to be followed for providing a healthy work environment to their employees. HR managers thus remain in the forefront for the promotion of such safety and healthy work environment (Bhattacharya and Tang, 2013). They are considered most eligible for making the best arrangement for a sound work environment keeping into concern the needs of the employee as they are most aware of the employee needs, their workplace, jobs and their demands.

Though they are not aware of the technical know-hows and the work policies; but their eligibility in possessing the idea and knowledge about the necessity for a sound work health is what brings them the responsibility for ensuring the implementation of the OHS Act norms in the workplace. Most organizations irrespective of whether functioning in the domestic or international level; depends on upon the HR for work safety and health responsibilities (de Waal, 2013). 

Talking about the specified duties of the HRs in an organization; some facts can be traced. They bear the responsibility of understanding the safety and health requirements by all the official employees, employers, supervisors, contractors and other staffs related to the business functions in some way or the other. WHS act in one of its section dealing with the employee’s duties has stated that it is the responsibility of the employee on his or her part to make sure that he/she enjoys working in an environment which is equally safe and healthy. Undergoing the work stress; it might not always be possible for the employee to report his/her problem or might they be not aware of the WHS Act norms (Davenport, 2015).

With modernization; girls and boys are stepping towards success keeping pace with each other. In such a scenario; workplaces employ both male and female staffs. Pregnancy is a natural health condition which female workers are likely to encounter. It is the responsibility of the HR to maintain a record of female employees undergoing pregnancy to ensure protective work environment for them (Davenport, 2015). Along with this; employee records maintenance of both past and present medical conditions along with any disability is the responsibility of the HR of an organization as mentioned by the norms of the WHS Act.


A sound work environment for all those working for the successful operation of an organization is what Work Health and Safety Act aims at. Appropriately distributing the responsibilities to the employee, employer and the HR; they act set up by the Australian Government reaches out to uplift better-working conditions thereby diminishing the chances of workplace accidents which have taken over a toll in the last few years. Only when all the organizations come up to follow these regulations; can a better professional environment be created for all the people of Australia. 



2009 WHS Meeting Abstract Author Index. (2009). Wound Repair and Regeneration, 17(2), pp.A54-A56.

Arntz-Gray, J. (2016). Plan, Do, Check, Act: The need for independent audit of the internal responsibility system in occupational health and safety. Safety Science, 84, pp.12-23.

Bhattacharya, S. and Tang, L. (2013). Middle managers’ role in safeguarding OHS: The case of the shipping industry. Safety Science, 51(1), pp.63-68.

Combined mandatory rule 42 and reg 176 for all lawyers. (2011). [Kensington, N.S.W.]: University of New South Wales, Faculty of Law, Centre for Continuing Legal Education.

Davenport, T. (2015). How HR plays its role in leadership development. Strategic HR Review, 14(3), pp.89-93.

de Waal, A. (2013). Leveraging the unique role of HR to excel as an HPO. Strategic HR Review, 12(2).

Dealing with redundancy as an employer. (2013). Veterinary Record, 173(22), pp.560-560.

Gewin, V. (2014). Annual Top Employers Survey: Employees Thrive on Innovative Design. Science.

Johnstone, R. and Tooma, M. (2012). Work health and safety regulation in Australia. Annandale, N.S.W.: Federation Press.

Occupational health and safety ("OHS") injunctions under section 198 of the Workers Compensation Act ("Act"). (2011). [Richmond, B.C.]: WorkSafeBC, Policy and Research Division.

PÅ«raitÄ—, A. and DeviatnikovaitÄ—, I. (2013). The Right to a Healthy and Safe Environment in the Case-Law of the European Court of Human Rights. Internal Security, 5(1), pp.17-34.

Rosen, M. (2000). How to act - implementing health and safety promotion in organizations. Health Policy and Planning, 15(3), pp.247-254.

Simpson, G. and Clifton, J. (2014). Consultation, Participation and Policy-Making: Evaluating Australia's Renewable Energy Target. Australian Journal of Public Administration, 73(1), pp.29-33.

Yoganandan, D. and Sivasamy, G. (2015). Health and Safety Measures in Chettinad Cement Corporation Limited, Karur. BIJDM, 5(1), pp.06-09.


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