COVID-19 and the Regulation of Work Health and Safety

Elizabeth Bluff, Richard Johnstone

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    This article examines the regulation of work health and safety (WHS) in relation to COVID-19 in Australia. It considers the broader public health response to COVID-19, which is separate from and has not overruled WHS laws or regulators’ powers but has shaped the regulation of WHS in fundamental ways. As the article explains, WHS laws set high standards for the protection of workers and others at workplaces, and WHS regulators have far-reaching powers for promoting, inspecting and enforcing compliance. Yet, the WHS regulators have played an auxiliary role in government responses to COVID-19; promoting public health ‘core practices’ that entail lower order administrative methods and personal protective equipment, and conducting limited inspection and enforcement of COVID-19 risk control. The article provides examples of deficiencies in control of COVID-19 risks and concludes that more could have been done within the framework of WHS laws.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)112-129
    JournalAustralian Journal of Labour Law
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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