In brief: The theme of week 4 of National Safe Work Month is "working together to create a safe and healthy workplace." This article will delve into the future of WHS in Australia, exploring changing work patterns and the emerging technologies which may create further WHS risk.

During National Safe Work Month this October, Colin Biggers & Paisley's employment and safety team have been focusing on how a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) can create and maintain safe workplaces. 

Safe Work Australia has developed the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy (2023 – 2033) to ensure that the safety and well-being of workers remains paramount over the next decade. At its core, this strategy aims to reduce worker fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. Achieving this goal relies on heightened awareness of Work Health and Safety (WHS), national coordination efforts, and fostering collaboration.

Putting WHS First with AI and Automation

While AI and automation offer numerous benefits, they must be implemented with safety in mind. Innovations should undergo consultation with workers and risk assessments should be completed to ensure they do not introduce or exacerbate WHS hazards (physical and psychological). Integrating these technologies can lead to safer work environments, exemplifying the synergy between innovation and safety.

Managing WHS Risks in the Green Economy

Australia's commitment to mitigating climate change is ushering in the green economy, marked by the adoption of renewable energy sources and electric vehicles, as well as cracking down on companies failing to make/take steps to implement climate policies. These changes introduce new industries and technologies, along with shifting work dynamics. As we transition to cleaner energy sources and embrace electric vehicles, WHS risks must continue to be managed. For example, if more people are working to install solar panels on rooftops, this could expose workers to the risk of falling from height. Under the model WHS laws, the duty to ensure worker health and safety applies to all forms of work, including those in the green economy. It is important to comply with your obligations as an employer to mitigate these risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

WHS and Hybrid Work

The rise of remote work in Australia necessitates an extension of WHS protections beyond traditional office settings. Employers must ensure the health and safety of workers while they work from home, acknowledging that WHS laws apply equally to remote environments. Common hazards associated with remote work include poorly set up workstations, suboptimal working environments, fatigue, and issues related to family and domestic violence. Mitigating these hazards requires collaboration between employers, employees, and their health and safety representatives. Consultation with workers and implementing controls is essential to effectively managing WHS risks in the home environment.


In Australia, the future of work health and safety hinges on adaptability, consultation, and a proactive approach to emerging challenges. The Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy (2023 – 2033) provides a roadmap for reducing workplace injuries and fatalities. As technology continues to evolve and work patterns change, the imperative remains clear; WHS must be integrated into the fabric of every business, safeguarding the well-being of the nation's workforce. By embracing this vision, Australia can ensure a safer and more secure future of work for all.

This is commentary published by Colin Biggers & Paisley for general information purposes only. This should not be relied on as specific advice. You should seek your own legal and other advice for any question, or for any specific situation or proposal, before making any final decision. The content also is subject to change. A person listed may not be admitted as a lawyer in all States and Territories. © Colin Biggers & Paisley, Australia 2024.

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