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Glossary of terms



2018 Review

The independent review of the model WHS laws, completed by Marie Boland in 2018.

airborne contaminant

A contaminant in the form of a fume, mist, gas, vapour or dust (includes micro-organisms).

Annual Performance Statement

A requirement under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth), taking effect from 1 July 2015. The statement is designed to provide a line of sight between planned non-financial performance outlined in the agency’s planning documents and actual performance over the reporting period.

Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022 (Australian Strategy)

A framework to help improve work health and safety in Australia. Its vision is healthy, safe and productive working lives. It promotes collaboration between the Commonwealth, state and territory governments, industry, unions and other organisations to reach the vision.

corporate plan

Safe Work Australia is required by the Safe Work Australia Act 2008 (Cth) each year to prepare a corporate plan covering a 4-year period which deals only with the outcomes to be achieved by Safe Work Australia and the strategies that are to be followed to achieve those outcomes.

duty holder

Any person who owes a work health and safety duty under the WHS Act, including a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), designer, manufacturer, importer, supplier, installer of products or plant used at work (upstream duty holders), an officer and workers.

Group of Twenty (G20)

The premier international forum for cooperation on global economic governance. The members of the G20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and European Union. G20 members account for about 86% of the world economy, 78% of global trade, and two-thirds of the world’s population, including more than half of the world’s poor.

Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)

A global method of classifying chemicals and preparing labels.

model Codes of Practice

Practical guides to achieving the standards of health, safety and welfare required under the WHS Act and the WHS Regulations in a jurisdiction. To have legal effect in a jurisdiction a model Code of Practice must be approved as a code of practice in that jurisdiction.

model WHS Act

The model WHS Act establishes WHS duties requiring the elimination or minimisation of risks arising from work and provides for worker consultation, representation and participation relating to WHS matters. It enables compliance with and enforcement of the model WHS laws through the regulator and provides for the making of model WHS Regulations and Codes to support the objectives of the model WHS Act.

model WHS framework

Any model Act, model regulations or model codes of practice relating to WHS, as amended from time to time, developed by Safe Work Australia for adoption by the Commonwealth, the States and the Territories.

model WHS laws

The model WHS laws consist of the model WHS Act, supported by model WHS Regulations, model Codes of Practice and a National Compliance and Enforcement Policy.

model WHS Regulations

The model WHS Regulations specify the way in which some duties under the model WHS Act must be met by setting out detailed requirements that must be applied to specific work activities and hazards. The model WHS Regulations also prescribe procedural or administrative requirements to support the model WHS Act (for example, requiring licences for specific activities and the keeping of records).

National Return to Work Strategy 2020–2030 (National RTW Strategy)

A national strategy to drive and leverage national action to improve return to work outcomes for workers with a work-related injury or illness. It promotes collaboration between the Commonwealth, state and territory governments, industry, unions and other organisations to achieve the vision of minimising the impact of work-related injury and illness and enabling workers to have a timely, safe and durable return to work.

occupational dust diseases

Occupational dust diseases are conditions of the respiratory system that have occupational exposure to dust as a risk factor for developing the disease.

occupational lung diseases

Occupational lung diseases are conditions of the respiratory system that have occupational exposure as a risk factor for developing the disease. These diseases may be acute, sub-acute or chronic, and either malignant, non-malignant or infectious in nature.

operational plan

Safe Work Australia’s operational plan describes the activities Safe Work Australia will undertake in performing its statutory functions during a financial year. The activities give effect to the strategies outlined in the corporate plan.

Person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU)

The model WHS Act places the primary duty of care on the PCBU. The term PCBU is an umbrella concept used to capture all types of working arrangements or structures. A PCBU can be a company, an unincorporated body or association, a sole trader or a self-employed person. Individuals who are in a partnership that is conducting a business will individually and collectively be a PCBU.

Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS)

Budget-related papers detailing budget initiatives and explanations of appropriations specified by outcome and program by each agency within a portfolio.

serious claim

An accepted workers’ compensation claim for an incapacity that results in a total absence from work for one working week or more. It includes claims that receive common-law payments. Claims that arise from a journey to or from work, or during a recess period, are not compensable in all jurisdictions and are excluded, as are compensated fatalities.

Virtual Seminar Series

The Virtual Seminar Series is a micro-site of the Safe Work Australia website which broadcasts a range of seminars to the public. The seminars are designed to showcase the latest thinking, research, developments and best practice in WHS.

WHS ministers

Commonwealth, state and territory ministers with responsibility for WHS.

WHS regulators

WHS regulators enforce WHS laws and provide advice on the WHS regulations in their jurisdictions.

Workers’ compensation authorities

Workers’ compensation authorities are responsible for the regulation and administration of workers’ compensation in their jurisdiction.

work-related musculoskeletal disorders

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders include a wide range of inflammatory and degenerative conditions affecting the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, peripheral nerves and supporting blood vessels incurred in the course of work.

workplace exposure standards

A workplace exposure standard for a particular chemical sets out the legal concentration limit of that chemical that must not be exceeded.