Home: Our Solutions: Compliance: WH&S: What is the Work Health and Safety Act 2011?

What is the Work Health and Safety Act (2011)?

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 extends the scope of business liability for driver welfare and is relevant to all industries. Here are the answers to the most often-asked questions regarding what the legislation means to you.

Q: Who is responsible for Workplace Health & Safety?
A: Both employees and employers are responsible for looking after health and safety at work. Your employees will have various duties of care depending on their position in the business.

When it comes to fleet management, the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) and the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) make it clear that everybody from business owners and managers to employees, contractors and suppliers is part of the Chain of Responsibility. This means everyone is responsible for taking steps to prevent incidents caused by risks such as mass, load restraint, dimension, fatigue and speeding.

Q: What are the obligations for employers and fleet managers?
A: The WHS Act requires anyone conducting a business to ensure the workplace is safe. This includes providing suitable training and instruction, creating safe working environments and offering support for remote or isolated workers, among other requirements. Different industries like mining and construction will also be regulated by specific state and territory laws. You can find out more here.

Q: What are the obligations for drivers?
A: Heavy-vehicle drivers are required to drive safely and within the speed limit, while meeting regulatory requirements around rest breaks to make roads safer for all users. This includes co-operating with employers on safety and health matters, reporting hazardous situations, following safety instructions, attending training courses and wearing protective equipment if necessary.

Q: What are the consequences if I breach WH&S regulations?
A: Breaches of the Chain of Responsibility vary based on the offence and number of times your business has offended. Penalties range from formal warnings to court-issued fines, commercial benefits penalties and licensing and registration sanctions.
Breaching the WHS act can incur fines of between $500,000 and $3 million for a corporation, or up to 5 years’ imprisonment for an individual, if behaviour is considered reckless enough to risk death or serious injury without a reasonable excuse.

Q: Am I still liable if I wasn’t aware of the legislation or policy?
A: Ignorance is no defence when it comes to safety. If you don’t have a relevant safety policy or were unsure of the regulatory requirements, you’ll still be liable in the case of an incident. Keeping up-to-date on new legislation, performing pre-vehicle safety checks and tracking vehicles to monitor the behaviour and routes of your drivers will help you stay on top of WH&S requirements and minimise risk.

Q: How will GPS fleet tracking help me to manage compliance with WH&S regulations?
A: Actionable fleet analytics data will help your business remain compliant with legislation and industry regulations. With GPS tracking devices fitted, you’ll have all the information you need to make sure the correct checks and balances are in place. This real-time flow of information is an essential part of ensuring everybody in the Chain of Responsibility is meeting their obligations.

GPS tracking will also keep your drivers safe. Automatically recording hours on the road will help to maintain safe work schedules, while sensors can alert drivers in the case of a potential hazard – for example, if they’re forgotten to wear a seat belt or have engaged cruise control for long periods of time.

Q: What are the biggest WH&S risks in fleet management?
A: The four biggest safety risks are fatigue, driver behaviour, mass management and vehicle maintenance.

Fatigue severely impairs a driver’s ability to make decisions and concentrate on the road. In fact, drivers who’ve been awake for 24 hours perform like someone with a blood alcohol limit of 0.1%. This is twice the legal limit for most drivers.

A significant number of crashes are caused by drivers operating vehicles in an unsafe manner – from not wearing a seatbelt to getting distracted, speeding or losing control.

Overloaded vehicles also pose a higher risk, as do vehicles that are poorly maintained and more likely to experience equipment failure.

Q: How can I encourage drivers to behave safely on the road?
A: To run a safe fleet, you need to proactively manage driver adherence with safety policies. Teletrac Navman’s GPS fleet management software, DIRECTOR, enables you to track driver performance and then pull reports, ranking drivers against company safety standards. Scorecards will evaluate drivers based on behaviours like speeding, idling, harsh braking and stop-sign violation, so you can address common issues.

Q: How can I make sure my vehicles are considered a safe working environment?
A: Using GPS fleet tracking to keep on top of maintenance gives you confidence that all your vehicles are roadworthy. Sensors monitor fault codes and alert you when a repair or service is required, helping to prevent smaller issues from becoming more serious. You can also schedule maintenance based on the distance vehicles have travelled, setting up reminders for regular servicing.

Q: Will an Electronic Work Diary (EWD) improve fatigue management and compliance?
A: Electronic logging of driver hours with an EWD will ensure your drivers stay safe and compliant with both WH&S and Chain of Responsibility legislation. Monitor, calculate and record work and rest times to make sure drivers meet fatigue management obligations, whether operating under Standard Hours, Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) or Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM).

Q: What information can I track on-site to manage WH&S?
A: GPS fleet tracking can also provide valuable information from construction or work sites to help you manage compliance with safety regulations. For example, stay on top of exactly how many people are onsite every day and be aware of what tasks they’re performing at any given time. You can also track onsite behaviours contributing to injuries so you can put measures in place to reduce incidents.