Small Business – A Definition from SafeWork Australia

Information Sourced From: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/small-business

Small businesses have less than 20 workers and will often be single director companies and family businesses. Leaders of these businesses are likely to be part of the day-to-day work and workplace.

Small businesses account for more than 95% of all Australian businesses and are responsible for the health and safety of approximately 4.8 million workers.

For the people that own and run these businesses, ensuring workplace health and safety processes are current and effective is mandatory. Even businesses with just a handful of workers have their own unique hazards, and independent entrepreneurs often need to manage all aspects of operations themselves.

Like any business, small businesses have a mandatory legal obligation to ensure they meet their compliance requirements. Unfortunately, many companies on know what they know and are unaware of all their obligations, or business owners are unsure about how they go about protecting themselves or their staff.


What are the WHS obligations under WHS legislation?

if you own a business, small, medium or large, it is imperative that you create a safe work environment to ensure your business succeeds.  Maintaining critical elements of a safe workplace is one of the best ways to retain staff and maximise productivity. Implementing safe work practices or installing safety equipment may incur costs initially, but the effect of not taking action can be severe.

As a business owner you have responsibilities regarding health and safety in your workplace. You need to ensure that your business doesn’t create health and safety problems for your employees, customers or the public.

Knowing and understanding the WHS laws, previously known as Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S), will help you avoid unnecessary costs and damage to your business caused by workplace injury and illness. It will also provide your business with a strong foundation to achieve long-term success.


In a nutshell, under WHS legislation you are obliged to provide:

  • safe premises
  • safe machinery and materials
  • safe systems of work including injury management
  • information, instruction, training and supervision
  • a suitable working environment and facilities

Complying with these duties can prevent you from being prosecuted and fined, increase productivity and generally strengthen the culture of your team and help you to retain skilled staff.