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Recent Amendments to Work Health and Safety (WHS) act – What’s changed?
by Leigh Harris

Recent Amendments to Work Health and Safety (WHS) act – What’s changed?

In 2014 there were some amendments to the Australian Standard AS3745-2010 Work Health and Safety act. Some areas have a fair amount of adjustments, and others are slightly different. Here’s a rundown.

Emergency Evacuation Diagrams

This is perhaps the area with the most change. Some companies such as Safety Graphics won’t need to tweak their diagrams as they already include the additional items now required.

For examples:

  • External elements like landscaping and fences shouldn’t be in the plan unless they are essential for the evacuation path.
  • For more prominent structures like hospitals, they should be broken up into sections so that only two exits are shown on each section.
  • A diagram with minimal elements has to be at least A4, and one with added components needs to be at least A3.
  • There has also been evacuation equipment image change and a few icon design changes.


Unless you are sure that your Emergency Evacuation Diagrams are compliant, they will need to be reviewed.



Make sure that everyone with a disability has a personalised emergency evacuation plan (P.E.E.P).

Emergency Response Plan

The additions to the act now require more information to be included in the emergency plan.

There are some items added:


  • Adding a separate area for emergency response exercises.
  • Including routine servicing and maintenance requirements.

It might be time to have your emergency plan reviewed.



The requirements for training have increased. You need to have all sections of the building undertake evacuation training at least once a year, and it must include evacuating the building, not just learning about it.


There has been a new title introduced for a particular kind of specialist: The Emergency Planning Consultant. This consultant is authorised to advise on the different elements of your emergency plan, including fire safety systems and human behaviour.


Codes of Practice

While these are Australian National Standards, they do not automatically apply until each parliament approves it. If the case is they haven’t been accepted yet in your current state, though you might not be penalised, you are still definitely expected to follow the safety regulations.

Codes of practice can’t be used to enforce punishment directly, but breaking them can be used to build a compelling argument that legal requirements have not been met.


Non-Compliance – A Business Killer

The other thing to keep in mind is that poor working conditions are toxic to business. The reputation of a company takes a huge hit when the workers don’t feel safe. It has been known to lead to boycotting and can have a massive impact on a business.

This is especially true for local business that so heavily relies upon word of mouth recommendations.


Ideally, all workplaces should be fully compliant to ensure safe working conditions and proper preparation for emergencies. If you are ever unsure if something is compliant, it’s much easier, in the long run, to have to checked out by a qualified professional.

The duty of care is taken very seriously in Australian law, and these amendments to the 2010 WHS act is no exception.