Safe Work Australia recently released an information sheet about the interaction between WHS laws and Australian and other international standards.

The information sheet offers guidance to PCBUs about whether compliance with Australian and other standards is legally required in order to comply with WHS duties under WHS laws.

In summary, if an Australian or other standard is referred to in WHS laws then compliance with that standard is legally required. There are only a few standards referred to in the harmonised Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011.

While the remaining standards are not expressly referred to in WHS laws, compliance with them will be taken into account by a Court when determining whether a PCBU complied with a WHS duty 'so far as is reasonably practicable'. This is because knowledge of the existence of a risk and ways of eliminating or minimising that risk are often referred to in Australian and other standards and codes of practice.