Searchshow menu

Why is work health important?

It’s the law

Under section 19(1) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth) (the WHS Act), a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) must ensure the health and safety of workers at work in the business or undertaking, so far as is reasonably practicable. Additionally, section 19(2) requires PCBUs to ensure that the health and safety of other persons is not put at risk from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking, so far as is reasonably practicable.

‘Health’ is defined under the WHS Act to mean physical and psychological health.

The employer’s duty of care includes providing:

  • a physical and psychosocial work environment without risks to health and safety
  • safe systems of work
  • information, training, instruction or supervision necessary to protect all persons from risks to their health and safety.

PCBUs must monitor the health of workers and conditions at the workplace to prevent illness or injury.

PCBUs must also consult with other involved duty holders (for example, contractors, workers and health and safety representatives (HSRs)) when addressing risk factors. This includes involving them when:

  • identifying and assessing the risks to health and safety in the workplace
  • making decisions about ways to eliminate or minimise risks
  • making decisions about procedures for monitoring the health and safety of workers or conditions at the workplace or providing information and training for workers on risks and controls.

It’s the right thing to do

The workplace plays an important part in combating the rise in chronic disease, promoting participation in employment, and preventing needless disability. The workplace can affect the physical, mental, economic and social wellbeing of workers and therefore offers opportunities to improve worker health.

To realise the health benefits of work and accelerate the prevention of chronic disease, workplaces need to extend their agenda to include health and wellbeing.

PricewaterhouseCoopers refers to the 'converging aims' of employers, health system payers and individuals. This is evident in the Joint Statement of Commitment to Promoting Good Health at Work, a Healthy Workers Initiative that is being implemented under the National Partnership Agreement on Preventative Health.

It’s the smart thing to do

Good work is good for you. Strong evidence shows that good worker health and wellbeing boosts organisational health and business performance.

Chronic disease negatively affects worker productivity and workplaces bear a number of associated costs. Health and wellbeing programs can improve performance and productivity and reduce indirect costs from:

  • absenteeism
  • presenteeism
  • staff turnover
  • workers’ compensation
  • disability and early retirement.

Other advantages of investment in health and wellbeing include improved workplace culture, attraction of talented workers and improved organisational image. Refer to Benefits to business: the evidence for investing in worker health and wellbeing for more information on how health and wellbeing programs can save employers money and produce a return-on-investment greater than 5:1.

Healthy and safe workplaces have a future because they are resilient in the face of change and adversity. They contribute to prosperity and a sustainable economy will create new opportunities. Businesses that protect worker health are among the most successful over time.

‘A cultural shift is gradually occurring in Australia. Employers, health system payers and individuals are increasingly seeing the benefit of the workplace as a setting for optimising physical, psychological and social health.’ (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2010)

Page last updated: 18 Sep 2014