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Overview of the legislation

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Work Health and Safety Act 2011

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (PDF, 1.42 MB) (WHS Act) provides a framework to protect the health, safety and welfare of all workers at work. It also protects the health and safety of all other people who might be affected by the work.

All workers are protected by the WHS Act. This includes employees, contractors, subcontractors, outworkers, apprentices and trainees, work experience students, volunteers and employers who perform work. The WHS Act also provides protection for the general public so that their health and safety is not placed at risk by work activities.

The WHS Act places the primary health and safety duty on a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), who must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers at the workplace. Duties are also placed on officers of a PCBU, workers and other persons at a workplace.

All duties under the WHS Act are qualified by the term 'reasonably practicable'.

The WHS Act also sets out the requirements for the following:

More information about the WHS Act is provided in the Guide to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (PDF, 399 kB).

From time to time amendments are made to the Work Health and Safety legislation. Information on  amendments made to the Work Health and Safety legislation in the past twelve months see  Work Health and Safety legislation amendments.

Safety for recreational water activities

Recreational diving and snorkelling is a significant industry in Queensland. These activities are regulated under the Safety in Recreational Water Activities Act 2011 (PDF, 536 kB) (the SRWA Act) and the Safety in Recreational Water Activities Regulation 2011 (PDF, 360 kB) (the SRWA Regulation) and the Recreational Diving, Recreational Technical Diving and Snorkelling Code of Practice 2011.

Under the SRWA Act a person who conducts a business or undertaking (PCBU) which provides recreational water activities is required to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of any person taking part in those activities.

The SRWA Act operates in tandem with the WHS Act which places a duty on a PCBU to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers at the workplace. It adopts the key provisions of the WHS Act for health and safety duties, penalties, compliance, enforcement and legal proceedings.

The SRWA Act sets out the legal duties that apply in Queensland to protect the public from harm when they take part in recreational water activities provided by a PCBU. When providing these activities, the PCBU is responsible for organising access to the place where the activities take place, supervising all aspects of the activity, supplying any equipment that is required and providing advice, training and demonstrations.

A PCBU has a duty under the SRWA Act to either eliminate or minimise the risks to health and safety as far as is reasonably practicable. They must:

The PCBU's workers must also take reasonable care to protect any people taking part in recreational water activities.

People taking part in recreational water activities (including onlookers) also have duties under the SRWA Act. They must take reasonable care for their own health and safety, comply with any reasonable instruction given by the PCBU and not endanger others.

Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011

If the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (PDF, 2.53 MB) describes how to prevent or minimise a risk at your workplace you must do what the regulation says.

If there is no regulation or code of practice about a risk at your workplace you must choose an appropriate way to manage exposure to the risk. A PCBU must, where there is no regulation or code of practice about a risk, eliminate or minimise risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

Codes of practice

A code of practice provides practical guidance for people who have work health and safety duties about how to achieve the standards required under the Act, and about effective ways to identify and manage risks.

A code of practice applies to anyone who has a duty of care in the circumstances described in the code. In most cases, following an approved code of practice would achieve compliance with the health and safety duties in the Act, in relation to the subject matter of the code. Like regulations, codes of practice deal with particular issues and do not cover all hazards or risks which may arise. The health and safety duties require duty holders to consider all risks associated with work, not only those for which regulations and codes of practice exist.

View the current codes of practice.