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Comcare’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy sets out our approach to our compliance and enforcement activities in relation to both work health and safety under the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) and workplace rehabilitation under the Commonwealth Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act).
It is not within the scope of the Compliance and Enforcement Policy to cover specific aspects of our compliance and enforcement activities in detail. Comcare publishes Regulatory Guides to provide more detailed guidance for our regulated entities.
Regulatory Guides explain Comcare’s views on topics such as:
- the nature of duties and obligations owed by regulated entities
- the decision-making process for authorisations and approvals
- specific compliance tools and how we decide when to use them.
The Regulatory Guides also provide general guidelines in relation to the prosecution of offences and the acceptance of WHS undertakings under the WHS Act.
We aim to provide Regulatory Guides on a broad range of important topics for the jurisdiction and welcome feedback on their coverage, content and format.
Work Health and Safety Regulatory Guides
The Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) and the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (WHS Regulations) are based on model work health and safety laws that have now been adopted in most Australian jurisdictions.
Division 3 of Part 1 of the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) (sections 4–9) defines certain words for the purposes of the WHS Act and the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (WHS Regulations) and also provides meanings for other important terms.
The core duties imposed by the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) are the ‘health and safety duties’ in Part 2 (sections 13–34), including the primary duty of care owed by persons conducting businesses or undertakings (PCBUs) towards workers and other persons.
Division 2 of Part 9 of the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) (sections 160–162) gives functions and powers to inspectors who have been appointed by Comcare under section 156.
Inspectors are given specific functions under Part 5 of the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act), which relates to the interactions of persons conducting businesses or undertakings (PCBUs), health and safety representatives (HSR), health and safety committees, work groups and workers. In certain situations where parties are unable to agree on an issue, Part 5 allows them to ask Comcare to appoint an inspector to assist them to resolve the issue or to decide a matter for them.
Comcare undertakes a range of compliance and enforcement activities under the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) to promote compliance or to deter or respond to non-compliance. These activities may or may not involve the use of compliance tools. Compliance tools are specific measures that Comcare can use to achieve an outcome in relation to compliance. Some compliance tools are established by specific legislative provisions.
Compliance tools include notices, WHS undertakings and prosecutions.
Part 7 of the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) provides for WHS entry permit holders to enter workplaces in certain circumstances.