Governance and Due Diligence

Work Health and Safety legislation requires officers of business’ and undertakings to exercise ‘due diligence’ to ensure that the business or undertaking of which they are an officer is in compliance with the legislation. This is a personal obligation, one that is held separately to that of the business or undertaking, and one for which the officer can be held personally liable. Significant personal penalties can be applied.

The term ‘officer’ is taken from section 9 of the Corporations Act 2001.

To quote Safe Work Australia’s interpretive guideline “An officer can only comply with their duty be taking an active and inquisitive role in the planning and action of health and safety initiatives.” To meet this obligation the officer should ensure there is “an appropriate governance structure with the right people in the right place, who are appropriately authorised and accountable, to enable WHS to be properly attended to.”