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Queensland's work health and safety laws

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 requires Department of Education, Training and Employment (DETE) workplaces (including schools) to immediately advise Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) of notifiable health and safety incidents External Link. This can be achieved by phoning WHSQ on 1300 369 915 - or by using the online MyHR system where available if it is possible to complete this immediately.

If workplaces notify by phone, they will be given a reference number by WHSQ. All incident information, including the WHSQ reference number, will then need to be entered into your incident management system to create a complete record, e.g. MyHR. Please refer to the Notifing Incidents to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Flowchart External Link for further information.

'Notifiable' health and safety incidents External Link are fnow, by definition, much more serious incidents than under previous legislation, therefore, there will be less incidents that require 'notification' to WHSQ. Definitions and further information about incident recording are provided in the procedure Health and Safety Incident Recording, Notification and Management External Link.

On 26 May 2011 Queensland Parliament passed the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (the WHS Act 2011). The WHS Act 2011 will apply to Queensland workplaces, including our department's schools and other workplaces from 1 January 2012. You can review the WHS Act 2011 Adobe PDF document External Link on line.

Are there any changes from previous legislation?

The WHS Act 2011 is generally consistent with the repealed Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 however there are a number of new concepts that will result in amendments to business processes. Importantly, everyone has health and safety duties to contribute to creating and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace.

1. The role of Workplace Health and Safety Officer (WHSO)

One of the few significant changes is that the legislative requirement for the appointment of a Workplace Health and Safety Officer (WHSO) is not included in the WHS Act 2011.

However, the Department of Justice and Attorney-General through Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) has developed a policy to retain WHSOs in government agencies, government owned corporations and public authorities from 1 January 2012. Our department will call this role Health and Safety Advisor (HSA).

Therefore, DETE is retaining the role through procedure Health and Safety Advisers - HSAs External Link.

Although a HSA does not have a statutory basis and does not have specific obligations imposed by the WHS Act 2011, WHSQ has advised that under the WHS Act 2011 a government worker assigned the role of a HSA will have the health and safety duty of a worker under section 28 of the WHS Act 2011.

What remains the same?

Are DETE HSAs offered legal indemnity and legal assistance, and will this continue from 2012 onwards when the new WHS Act 2011 takes effect?

HSAs in DETE workplaces are provided with the same indemnity and legal assistance as all state employees, in accordance with the Guideline for the Grant of Indemnities and Legal Assistance to State Employees. Adobe PDF document[an error occurred while processing this directive]

HSAs acting within the course of their duties and endeavouring to act diligently and conscientiously in discharging those duties have access to the same level of protection they have always had under processes for government employees. These systems are in place for all departmental staff and are independent of the legislation change.

What about training for HSAs?

Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) provide Health and Safety Advisor Training.

The qualification for a Health and Safety Adivsor is:

Staff with health and safety qualifications or experience may be eligible for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) or to undertake a bridging course to meet the minimum qualification. Assessments of eligibility will be determined by Registered Training Organisations.

Refresher training

Currency of skills and knowledge is to be maintained through the completion of refresher training every 5 years. For example;

2. What are Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU), Officers and Workers in relation to DETE Under the WHS Act 2011?


PCBUs are required to ensure, 'so far as is reasonably practicable':


A new duty holder in the legislation is an 'Officer'.

In accordance with advice received from WHSQ and guidance material released from Safe Work Australia, we can confirm that Officers under the WHS Act 2011 include:

Officers of the PCBU have a duty 'to exercise due diligence' to ensure that the PCBU complies with its health and safety duties under the WHS Act 2011.


All staff have duties as workers under the WHS Act 2011. The term 'worker' under the WHS Act 2011 applies to any person who carries out work in any capacity for a PBCU and includes employees, volunteers, contractors and contractors' workers.

Workers have a duty to 'take reasonable care':

Staff in supervisory roles (including Regional Directors, Assistant Regional Directors, School Principals and Managers) should be mindful that their decisions have the potential to affect a large number of individuals' health and safety and thus the duty to 'take reasonable care' extends to these decisions.

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This page was last reviewed on 12 Sep 2014

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