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Safe Work Australia and the Policies They Implement


Safe Work Australia is a national body responsible for leading the development of policy related to work safety in Australia. They also set national policy on worker compensation for the nation by creating model codes and practices and developing broad policies. Safe Work Australia does not regulate the policies it makes; this is the role of the states, territories and commonwealth. The agency is designed to be a partnership between trades, unions and the government with the overall goal of worker safety across Australia.




Safe Work Australia came into existence through the Safe Work Australia Act of 2008. It began functioning on its own in 2009 and receives a combination of commonwealth, state and territory funding. It was an extension of the National Health Occupational Health and Safety Council and also the Australian Safety and Compensation Council.


What Safe Work Australia Does


Safe Work Australia has a number of functions, including:


  • Developing national policy related to worker safety and compensation
  • Preparing model safety and regulation codes
  • Monitoring the implementation of safety policies by the states, territories and commonwealth
  • Collecting and analyzing data on worker safety and compensation
  • Conducting formal research relating to safety and compensation
  • Promoting awareness of safety throughout the nation
  • Interacting with international bodies regarding worker safety





Safe Work Australia has developed a number of policies relating in particular to the building and construction industries. For example, they have created clear policies on asbestos removal and also on working high in the air and in confined spaces. They have developed policies relating to demolition and working with chemicals. Damage to hearing through industrial noise is a particular issue they have developed policy for.


In short, Safe Work Australia has created model policies and regulations for the areas of work that have traditionally been dangerous. Their policies are broad enough to cover many practices, but specific enough to provide useful practical guidelines.


Safe Work Australia developed the National Workers’ Action Compensation Plan between 2010-2013, which is an extensive guide to compensation. They also developed the National Work Health and Safety Strategy, which went into effect in 2012 and is expected to run until 2022.


The Select Council on Workplace Relations reviews Safe Work Australia policies.




The agency has about 100 staff who work together with members. It is divided into four branches reporting to the CEO: Review, Policy and Services, Health and Safety and, finally, Explosives.




Safe Work Australia is an agency with the tremendous responsibility of developing policy that keeps workers safe and healthy across the nation. It does so by working closely with industry, unions, states, territories and the commonwealth.