WHS/OH&S Acts, Regulations and Codes of Practice

Workplace health and safety (WHS) laws

New work health and safety (WHS) laws commenced on 1 January 2012 in many states and territories to harmonise occupational health and safety (OH&S) laws across Australia.

WHS legislation includes a model WHS Act, regulations, Codes of Practice and a national compliance and enforcement policy. The model WHS Act is not significantly different from previous OH&S laws, but make it easier for businesses and workers to comply with their requirements across different states and territories.

Each state and territory is responsible for regulating and enforcing WHS laws. Safe Work Australia is the national body in charge of developing work health and safety and workers' compensation policy. Visit Safe Work Australia to read about the work health and safety laws.

Comcare also assists at a national level in the education, assurance and enforcement of WHS legislation. Visit the Comcare website for more information.

The following states and territories now use harmonised WHS legislation instead of previous OH&S laws:

  • Australian Capital Territory
  • The Commonwealth of Australia
  • New South Wales
  • Northern Territory
  • Queensland
  • South Australia
  • Tasmania

OH&S, WHS Regulations and Codes of Practice

Some workplace hazards can cause so much injury or disease that specific regulations or codes of practice are needed to control them. These regulations and codes explain the duties of particular groups of people in controlling these risks. There is a difference between regulations and codes:

  • Regulations are legally enforceable
  • Codes of Practice provide advice on how to meet regulatory requirements. Codes are not legally enforceable, but they can be used in courts as evidence that legal requirements have or have not been met.

Read more about the Codes of Practice.

WHS Acts, Regulations and Codes of Practice in your state or territory

Australian Capital Territory

New South Wales

Northern Territory


South Australia



Western Australia

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