WHS regulations FAQs
Responses to common questions we receive at webinars and information sessions on psychosocial hazards and regulation.
When will the Commonwealth Code of Practice be available? What should we be doing?
The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) is working closely with Comcare to ensure appropriate information and guidance is available to support businesses and workers to understand and meet their obligations for managing psychosocial risks. This includes consideration of a Commonwealth Code of Practice on Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work.
In the meantime, Safe Work Australia’s Model Code of Practice: Managing psychosocial hazards at work provides practical guidance to assist duty holders understand their obligations.
Where should employers and employees start?
Go to our WHS law changes landing page which will start your journey through the information available, including a link to the Safe Work Australia model Code of Practice which provides helpful explanations and information about hazards, controls, and other guidance.
Consultation with workers – which includes all people performing work in your business – will be key to understand, identify and eliminate or minimise the risk of harm from psychosocial hazards. Consulting workers is a legal requirement under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. The Model Code of Practice for Managing psychosocial hazards at work has more information on this.
What guidance is available for employers, employees, managers, supervisors, HSRs and contractors?
Comcare has prepared webpages to cover common psychosocial hazards, along with guidance and more information where available. Online learning and training products are also available. Our landing page is your starting point.
Another important resource is our Work Demands guidance, which has a helpful checklist, and guidance specific to employers, managers and supervisors, and workers. This guidance covers many of the common psychosocial hazards identified in the model code of practice.
We also have guidance suites for sexual harassment, bullying and other topics listed in the code of practice accessible through the landing page.
How will Comcare be regulating the risks of psychosocial hazards?
Comcare has established a dedicated psychosocial team within our WHS inspectorate to focus on regulation of psychosocial hazards and associated risks.
Comcare is also conducting a proactive inspection trial program across three employers, and this may be expanded in the future. Consistent with our Compliance and Enforcement Policy (PDF, 158.2 KB), we encourage cooperative and collaborative approaches to compliance from persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) in our jurisdiction. However, serious contraventions can lead to other enforcement actions from Comcare.
The pilot will be evaluated, including a survey of participating employers, before a further expansion of the program.
Who needs to be aware of the new WHS regulations and how do we make workers aware of the changes?
All duty holders under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 must comply with the regulations – including Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (usually the employer), officers, managers and supervisors, and workers. Organisations should make staff aware of the new regulations through available internal communications functions, including via appointed Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) and Health and Safety Committees.
What approach should workplaces take in implementing the new WHS regulations?
Employers should ensure their WHS systems are up to date and apply the hierarchy of controls in the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 to assessing and addressing psychosocial hazards. Division 11 of the regulations, in force as of 1 April 2023, defines a psychosocial hazard and what needs to be considered when controlling risks, including the frequency and severity of exposure, and how psychosocial hazards may interact or combine.
Comcare has a range of helpful resources available:
- Risk Management: A snapshot (PDF, 187.9 KB)
- Workplace health and safety management system
- Work health and safety management plan (PDF, 508.6 KB)
Is the employer also responsible for the psychosocial safety of subcontractors?
Yes. Under the WHS laws, a person is a worker if the person carries out work in any capacity for a PCBU/employer including work as an employee, a contractor, subcontractor or their employees, a labour hire worker, an outworker, apprentice or trainee, a work experience student, or a volunteer.
Have there been changes to requirements for incident notifications?
No. There are currently no changes to incident notification requirements. We anticipate that a Regulatory Impact Analysis will be prepared and released by Safe Work Australia for public consultation. Comcare recommends that employers consider the proposed changes and take part in any consultation.