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WHS legislation

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 came into effect on 1 January 2012 and the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 commenced on 1 September 2017.

The WHS legislation applies to all workplaces in NSW, including mines.

The legislation can be found on the NSW Legislation website

The Work Health and Safety Amendment (Review) Act 2020 recently passed by the NSW Parliament has enacted the following key changes to NSW WHS laws:

  • Enhancement of the Category 1 offence by including “gross negligence” as a fault element – To make it easier to prosecute and create a stronger incentive for duty holders to manage WHS risks.
  • Prohibition of insurance and indemnity arrangements - To ensure people cannot avoid responsibility for paying WHS fines.
  • Increased penalty amounts for all WHS offences in line with the Consumer Price Index – To ensure penalties retain their deterrent value.
  • Extension of time in which a person can ask the WHS regulators to start a prosecution in response to a Category 1 or Category 2 offence from 12 to 18 months and addition of a requirement that the WHS regulator provide updates every three months to the requester until a decision to prosecute is made - To ensure that during investigations of workplace accidents, families are kept informed and have access to an effective review mechanism for decisions not to prosecute.
  • Clarification that a Health and Safety Representative (HSR) can choose their course of training - To avoid unnecessary delays which can affect an HSR’s ability to fulfil their role and exercise their powers.
  • Penalty notices for failing to give the regulator a copy of an adverse health monitoring report.

These changes, which came into effect 10 June 2020, will assist in improving compliance and enforcement measures for the NSW WHS Regulators, to make the lives of workers and business owners healthier, safer and more productive.

Read the amendment Bill.

Codes of practice

An approved code of practice is a practical guide to achieving the standards of health, safety and welfare required under work health and safety laws. Codes of practice have a legal status under the law.

Further information and copies of the codes approved under this legislation is available on the codes of practice page.

Other types of guidance

Interpretive guidelines

Safe Work Australia has issued guidelines to help interpret various concepts within the WHS legislation.

Your implementation questions answered

Read answers to common questions about the implementation of the WHS legislation in the FAQs on the WHS legislation implementation (PDF, 360.15 KB).

Do you have any queries about the new legislation not answered in the FAQs? If you do then send your questions to

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