Model Act and Regulations


In July 2008, the Commonwealth, states and territories agreed to harmonise work health and safety (WHS) laws across Australia, because the legislation developed over the previous century in the various jurisdictions was full of inconsistencies, creating problems for business. 

The model WHS Act and Regulations were developed by the Commonwealth in consultation with the states and territories. The intention was that each jurisdiction would then pass legislation based on the model laws. 

By January 2013, all jurisdictions except Victoria and Western Australia had adopted the harmonised WHS laws. While WA will be adopting a modified version of the harmonised WHS laws, Victoria has indicated that it will not be introducing new legislation based on the national model. The WHS Acts and Regulations now in place do vary somewhat from one jurisdiction to another, but are far more consistent than was the case under previous legislation.

The WHS Act and the Regulations came into effect on 1 January 2012 in the Commonwealth, New South Wales, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory; and on 1 January 2013 in South Australia and Tasmania. Transitional provisions allowed time for workplaces to adjust to the new requirements in the Regulations.

In addition to the WHS Acts and the Regulations, codes of practice based on nationally-developed model WHS codes of practice provide support and guidance on how to achieve the required standards of WHS.

[Last updated 25 May 2015]

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