Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Exercise and Health Sciences/Occupational Health Research Group
For over four decades all states and territories in Australia have maintained their own and separate set of laws for the management of health and safety risks in construction. This resulted in at least ten different sets of health and safety legislation. Responding to calls for national uniformity, a harmonised set of laws wer issued in 2011 by the Federal Government, in the form of Model Work Health and safety Act and Regulations. These, together with industry-specific codes of practice, are expected to provide construction organisations their first ever common set of standards and benchmarks across the states and territories they operate in. However, the objectives of harmonisation appear not to have been fully realised because the harmonized legislation have not been adopted by all states and territories. This paper traces the development of health and safety laws in Australia, and briefly examines the application of these laws in the three states of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. It concludes with a discussion on what the laws mean in terms of managing health and safety risks in the Australian construction industry.