Latest changes to WHS laws
In March 2023, a bill containing a suite of amendments to the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act 2011 passed the Australian Parliament.
The changes under the Work Health and Safety Amendment Act 2022 came into effect on 21 September 2023 and include:
- Broadening the Category 1 offence to include negligence as a fault element
- Prohibiting insurance coverage for monetary penalties
- Enhancing inspector powers
- Extending the deadline for a person to request a prosecution, and strengthening requirements for Comcare to provide progress updates
- Allowing Health and Safety Representatives to choose their own Comcare-approved training course
The amendments implement recommendations of the 2018 review of the Model WHS Laws which looked at how the legislation was operating in practice.
This follows changes to the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 in April 2023 which prescribe how employers must identify and manage hazards and risks to workers’ psychological health and safety.
For more information about the bill and its amendments:
- Download the Work Health and Safety Amendment Bill 2022 Explanatory Memorandum
- Download the Work Health and Safety Amendment Bill 2022 Second Reading Speech
Changes to psychosocial regulations
In April 2023, important changes to Commonwealth work health and safety laws came into place.
For the first time, the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 prescribe how employers must identify and manage hazards and risks to workers’ psychological health and safety.
The amended Work Health and Safety Regulations prescribe how duty holders must identify and manage hazards and risks to workers’ psychological health and safety.
Organisations need to consider and review approaches to managing psychosocial risks and fostering mentally healthy workplaces. This includes engaging and consulting with workers.
Comcare has guidance on psychosocial hazards, and a range of education products for psychological health and safety, available through our Learning Management System. New education products including webinars continue to be developed.
There is also a dedicated unit within our WHS inspectorate to focus on regulation of psychosocial hazards and associated risks.
You can find more information about changes to psychosocial regulations on the Safe Work Australia website.
We have developed a suite of case studies based on Comcare regulatory activity in response to incidents involving psychosocial hazards and risks at workplaces in the Commonwealth jurisdiction, intended as an education resource to provide you with examples of hazards and risks and how they can be managed.
You may also find these Comcare resources and information helpful: