The Powerful OHS Meaning You Need to Know

The term OHS in Australia stands for Occupational Health and Safety. The main goal of Occupational Health and Safety is to reduce the occurrence of accidents, illnesses, and fatalities at work. Continue reading this Business Kitz blog to learn more about OHS.

What body governs OHS?

Safe Work Australia is the national policy body responsible for developing and promoting national OHS policies, strategies, and guidelines. It works closely with the various state and territory OHS regulators to implement these policies and ensure compliance with OHS legislation.

Australian law mandates that employers are required to identify and assess workplace hazards‘ and provide workers with information to ensure their safety. It is also the responsibility of the workers to exercise sensible care for their safety and well-being.

Overall, OHS is a vital aspect of workplace management in Australia. By prioritising the health and safety of workers, a more productive and sustainable workplace culture is created.

What is an example of OHS?

There are many examples of how Occupational Health and Safety is applied in workplaces across Australia. An instance of this would be using personal protective equipment (PPE).

Another example is the implementation of safe work procedures, such as lockout/tagout procedures in industrial settings. These procedures are used to control hazardous energy sources and ensure that machinery or equipment is safely isolated before maintenance or repair work is carried out. OHS also involves providing workers with appropriate training and supervision to perform their work safely. 

In addition, OHS includes measures to prevent workplace stress and mental health issues. For example, employers can implement stress management programs or offer Employee Assistance Programs to provide workers with support for any personal or work-related challenges.

Why is Occupational Health and Safety important?

The significance of OHS cannot be overstated since it shields workers from harm and promotes their physical and mental health in the workplace. 

Implementing effective OHS policies and practices can reduce the risk of workplace accidents and incidents, and improve worker productivity, morale, and job satisfaction. Employers prioritising OHS also benefit from reduced insurance premiums, workers’ compensation claims, and absenteeism rates. Overall, investing in OHS is not only a legal requirement but also a sound business decision that can enhance workplace safety, productivity, and sustainability.

What are the 4 principles of OHS?

The four principles of OHS, as outlined by Safe Work Australia, are:

  1. The precautionary principle: taking preventative action to avoid potential harm.
  2. The hierarchy of control: addressing workplace hazards in order of effectiveness, from eliminating hazards to providing personal protective equipment (PPE).
  3. The consultation principle: involving workers in decision-making processes that impact their health and safety.
  4. The worker participation principle: empowering workers to participate in and contribute to OHS initiatives.

What is the legislation for Occupational Health and Safety in Australia?

The Occupational Health and Safety laws in Australia are set at both the federal and state/territory levels.

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) at the federal level outlines a structure for overseeing work health and safety (WHS) for all industries in Australia, except for the maritime industry and some sections of the aviation industry. To fulfil the Act’s requirements, the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 provide more specific guidance.

In addition to the Workplace Health Safety Act and Regulations, there are also other relevant legislation and codes of practice that govern specific industries or hazards.

Each state and territory in Australia also has its own Workplace Health Safety legislation that are based on the model Workplace Health Safety laws developed by Safe Work Australia. These laws mirror the WHS Act and Regulations, but may include some variations or additional requirements. Employers must comply with the OHS legislation that applies to their workplace and industry, and failure to do so can result in penalties, fines, and legal action.

What is the difference between OHS and WHS?

While Occupational Health and Safety and WHS are used interchangeably, they carry slightly different meanings. Usually, Occupational Health and Safety denotes the supervision of workplace health and safety, whereas WHS encompasses a wider scope, including both the physical and mental wellness of workers within the workplace.

The difference between OHS and WHS is primarily a matter of terminology rather than legal significance. The model Work Health and Safety laws adopted by Safe Work Australia use the term Workplace Health Safety, but some jurisdictions still use the term OHS to refer to workplace safety laws. 

Legal advice

If you have any questions about Occupational Health and Safety and how it affects you, please do not hesitate to contact our sister company, Legal Kitz to assist you. You can request to book a free 30-minute consultation with their experienced and highly qualified team via our website now.

Additionally, you can also check out our Business Kitz Subscription to access our full range of legal, commercial and employment document templates such as out WHS Policy and Procedure Template.

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