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Supply chains and networks

Supply chains and networks is an action area within the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 and refers to the often complex network of linked individuals, organisations, activities and technologies involved at various stages in the creation of a good or service. Supply chains generally encompass the three functions of supply, manufacturing and distribution.

The potential exists for work health and safety outcomes to be affected either positively or negatively by the commercial influence of parties within the chain.


The causes of death or serious injury within the supply chain relationship will vary across industry sectors and may include:

  • transport or plant-related (collisions and overturns)
  • struck by moving object
  • falls from height
  • fatigue
  • hazardous manual tasks
  • contact with machinery
  • exposure to substances
  • injury by an animal
  • slips, trips and falls at level
  • health and co morbidity


Research1 suggests that the health and safety consequences of supply chains are influenced both directly and indirectly by buyers. Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) within the Commonwealth jurisdiction have an important role to play in assuring good health and safety outcomes based on the strength of their commercial relationships.

Often there is an organisation at the centre of the supply chain with the position to influence supply chain sustainability through measures such as procurement strategies. The PCBU needs to recognise the influence of the commercial relationship that exist within a Supply Chain and utilise their impact to improve workplace health and safety outcomes.

1Walters, D., & James, P. (2009) Understanding the role of supply chains in influencing health and safety at work. Leicestershire, IOSH.


Below is a list of resources from various jurisdictions and industry groups relevant to the management of workplace health and safety. These resources may assist in the control of risks found in the Supply Chain.

Information Source What it Contains?
SafeWork Australia

Australian Strategy Topic Paper

A critique of current evidence on supply chains and networks as they apply to work health and safety.

Labour hire duties of a person conducting a business or undertaking

Fact sheets on the responsibilities of persons conducting a business or undertaking in this aspect of the supply chain.

National Heavy Vehicle Regulator

About the chain of responsibility

Discusses the role of persons with an influence and/or control in the transport chain

Page last updated: 09 Jun 2017