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International activities


  • Safe Work Australia Act 2008 (Cth) – Item 6

Contributing to

  • Corporate plan—strategy 6
  • Operational plan—activity 6


  • The work plan developed for the G20 Occupational Safety and Health Expert Network is to be adopted at the September 2019 meeting in China.
  • CEO, Michelle Baxter delivering the keynote speech about the future of work from an Australian perspective at the Singapore Workplace Safety and Health Conference in 2018.


  • Safe Work Australia Members
  • World Congress on Safety and Health at Work
  • International Labour Organization
  • G20 Occupational Safety and Health Expert Network
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Asia–Pacific Economic Co-operation
  • Cochrane Work Review Group
  • International Commission on Occupational Health

‘We collaborate with international bodies to share research and knowledge and to study international achievements potentially of benefit to Australia.’

Our work this year

Our international profile

This year we worked with our international counterparts to collaborate and share information and knowledge of WHS and workers’ compensation.

Our staff represent Safe Work Australia internationally and this year we participated in engagements to raise our profile and to contribute to best-practice WHS and workers’ compensation policy.

The agency works closely with the Attorney-General’s Department to ensure Australia’s WHS and workers’ compensation matters are reported for the purpose of meeting Australia’s international obligations under International Labour Organization Conventions.

G20 Occupational Safety and Health Expert Network

The G20 Occupational Safety and Health Expert Network contributes to improving communication, coordination and information sharing between G20 countries. The Network facilitates greater communication among country experts, representatives of international organisations, businesses and workers.

Our CEO, Michelle Baxter represents Australia as part of this global network and in August 2018 she met with our international counterparts to create the network work plan. The work plan is to be adopted at the September 2019 meeting in China and includes topics such as the future of work and the challenges and opportunities that come with the rise of globalisation.

Singapore Workplace Safety and Health Conference 2018

Our CEO, Michelle Baxter represented the agency at the Singapore Workplace Safety and Health Conference in August 2018. The theme was Transforming for the Future: Healthy Workforce, Safe Workplaces. Ms Baxter’s presentation provided the Australian perspective on WHS, which is unique due to the number of jurisdictions and independent systems of government in a large, diverse country. She also discussed the six megatrends that the agency collaborated on with the CSIRO to produce the Workplace safety futures report—looking at emerging trends in WHS and workers’ compensation over the next 20 years. These include: automated systems and robotics (megatrend 1); screen time, sedentary behaviour and chronic illness (megatrend 2); remote working (megatrend 3); the gig economy (megatrend 4); the ageing workforce (megatrend 5); and an increase in workplace stress and mental health issues (megatrend 6). Finally she looked at the future of work in Australia, including challenges and opportunities.

The United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts for the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals

Our agency leads the GHS implementation in Australia and is working to move to GHS 7, which will align us with our international counterparts. We head the Australian delegation on the UNSCEGHS and we present the agreed Australian Government position on chemicals issues in Australia.

The sub-committee meets twice annually to revise and update the GHS to reflect national, regional and international experiences in implementing its requirements into laws.

In 2018–19, Dr Paul Taylor, Director, Chemicals Policy, attended the 35th and 36th sessions of the sub-committee, in his role as Head of Australian Delegation. At the 35th session in July 2018, Australia introduced a paper providing an update on implementation of the GHS in Australia, which also requested information from other economies on future GHS implementation plans, and sought to bring a focus on co-ordinating implementations of the GHS globally. At the 36th session, the sub-committee agreed a joint proposal from Australia and the USA to amend the GHS text to clarify the role of the GHS in risk management of chemicals. At the 36th session amendments to the GHS text including new classification criteria for chemicals under pressure in Chapter 2.3 and revisions to Chapter 3.2 on skin corrosion/irritation to take account of developments in non-animal test methods for inclusion in the 8th revised edition of the GHS, due to be published in July 2019.

At the conclusion of the 36th Session of the sub-committee, the UNSCETDG and the UNSCEGHS met to agree to programs of work for both the TDG and GHS sub-committees and to elect officers for the upcoming biennium. Dr Taylor was elected Vice-Chair of the UNSCEGHS replacing Mr Robin Foster (United Kingdom) who was vacating the position due to his retirement.

Visiting International delegations—New Zealand and Taiwan

Working with our stakeholders includes hosting international delegations to collaborate and share knowledge. Our agency welcomes the interest in international jurisdictions learning about WHS and workers’ compensation from an Australian perspective.

In November 2018, Safe Work Australia welcomed a delegation from Taiwan, including the Minister of Civil Service Protection and Training Commission and senior officials to discuss WHS policy for public servants.

The discussion was around helping to shape WHS protections for civil servants in Taiwan, information on the agency’s guide to psychological health and safety in the workplace and the model Codes of Practice—including information on how to manage WHS risks.

In May 2019, Safe Work Australia welcomed a delegation of officials from the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Work Safe New Zealand to discuss Australia’s model WHS laws.

In a wide-ranging discussion Australian and New Zealand officials covered several topics including hazardous chemicals, high-risk plant, psychosocial risks in the work place and the recent review of Australia’s model WHS laws.