Uniformity of OHS Laws: Good Luck Or Good Management?

Essay by Hailey1211University, Bachelor's October 2005

download word file, 8 pages 3.0


The economic cost of poor performance of occupational health and safety in Australia is enormous. The cost is estimated to be about $31 billion a year. And the cost of pain and suffering of injured workers is immeasurable. Because of this, occupational health and safety legislations (OHS legislations) are very important in more ways than one. They could not only reduce the cost of the employers but also effectively protect employees from hazard.

In Australia the Commonwealth Constitution dose not give the Commonwealth a general power to legislate for OHS, but each state and territory could legislate their own OHS laws. In fact there are ten OHS statues including six state Acts, two territory Acts, a Commonwealth Act covering Commonwealth employees, and a Commonwealth Act covering the maritime industry. 2 Although there are different OHS laws in different states and territories, uniformity has been reached in the variety OHS laws across the Australian federal system in some degree.

Some people say this kind of uniformity has come about by good luck rather than good management. It is true in some degree, but with the development of OHS laws and recent initiatives of federal government, I believe good management will put more effort into the uniformity of OHS laws.


OHS legislation goes through a difficult time in the history of Australia. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, each Australian state adopted most of the provisions of 19th century British health and safety legislation, such as 1878 Factories Acts. 3 From this way, by 1970 each of the six states had an OHS statue implementing the traditional British model of OHS regulation. 4 The colonies or states adopted the British factory laws to improve the poor conditions in Australian. Although the details of legislations...