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Managing risks in the workplace

Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) have a primary duty to manage risks to health and safety by eliminating them as much as is reasonably practicable.

This responsibility extends to employers, the self-employed, principal contractors, those who manage or control a workplace, as well as designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers of plant, substances or structures that are used for work. And it applies to all types of work and all workplaces that are covered by the WHS Act.

Efficiently managing work health and safety risks within a workplace means having a systematic approach, which involves five key elements.


In regard to work health and safety, governance is the organisational framework, procedures, policies and processes a body employs at a strategic level to manage the performance of its work health and safety duties, functions and operations. As part of its governance role, a PCBU will develop organisational work health and safety policies, define key WHS roles and responsibilities, address consultation obligations and define arrangements for working with Comcare. Workplace safety culture also falls within this category.


Prevention is always better than a cure! At the heart of an effective preventative system is compliance with work health and safety obligations and stopping hazards entering the workplace. Information should be provided on developing hazard specific policies and procedures, health and safety in design, safety data analysis, WHS audit, WHS training and education, WHS within procurement, WHS inspection testing and health monitoring, and internal hazard reporting arrangements.


If a safety incident takes place an organisation must take steps to remove the hazard that caused it, and implement changes to stop it from happening again. Information on incident investigation, incident notification requirements, emergency preparedness and response, including first aid policies and procedures should be found within an organisation's response documentation.

Managing hazards

An effective risk and hazard management methodology allows an organisation to identify hazards that pose a risk to its workers and resolve them before they cause injury or illness. It should outline the process for identifying hazards within the workplace. Risk, remedy, and resources are provided for specific hazards identified within the WHS Act, Regulations and codes of practice.


Where a worker has been injured the employer has responsibilities under both the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act) and WHS Act. These responsibilities are usually addressed under a rehabilitation management system that will usually include an organisational structure, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes, and resources, for managing workplace injury or illness.

02439_SD_Managing_risks_v4Manging risks in the workplaceBiological HazardsPhysical HazardsChemical HazardsErgonomic HazardsPsychosocial HazardsResponseGovernancePreventionManaging HazardsRecovery

Page last updated: 06 Apr 2017