Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


OHSE601 Principles of OHSE Management

Teaching organisation

3 hours per week (two hours of lectures and one hour of tutorial) for 12 weeks or equivalent in intensive mode or online

Unit rationale, description and aim

To be a competent OHSE professional students must have a comprehensive understanding of how Work Health and Safety (WHS) and Environmental laws are interpreted and applied in practice. This unit covers the Australian legal system, including the fundamental concepts of common law; the doctrine of judicial precedent, statutory Interpretation, law making processes and court systems. It covers the constitutional separation of powers for the Commonwealth and State and Territory jurisdictions and how the state-based Work Health and Safety and Environment laws function in the wider legal system. Students will have the opportunity to read, analyse and interpret specific legislation and case law regarding work health and safety, (with a focus on the Australian national model Work Health and Safety laws), and protection of the environment, in so far as it relates to a workplace, as well as effectively communicating results and recommendations to key decision makers. The aim of the unit is to provide students with an advanced understanding of the legal framework regulating work health and safety so as to apply best OHSE practices in a professional manner.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Evaluate the Australian OHSE legal framework and assess its legislative instruments (GA4, GA5)

LO2 - Interpret the functions, provisions and key terms of the Australian Model Work Health and Safety laws and their applicability in various organisational and jurisdictional contexts. (GA5, GA8)

LO3 - Legally analyse sources of legal precedence/case law and critically determine how these might impact on the OHSE practices of the organisation or individuals while recognising their responsibility to workers’ rights and their dignity at the workplace, the environment and society. (GA2, GA5)

LO4 - Identify and critically determine possible breaches of OHSE legislation and effectively communicate sustainable recommendations and other relevant technologies to organisational stakeholders to address such breaches. (GA5, GA10)

Graduate attributes

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession  

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively


Topics will include:

  • Finding, reading and applying case law and legislation using law databases, legal citation and definitions
  • The Australian Legal System In Practice: Statutes and Common Law, legal Precedent and Statutory Interpretation
  • The development of the WHS laws, the context of duty of care with the tort of negligence harmonisation, synergies with environmental law. Maintaining currency with OHSE law
  • Overview of WHS Act and Regulation and Environmental Legal Framework
  • Health and safety duties in practice
  • Duty to consult and provide training
  • Health and safety representatives and designated work groups
  • Authorizations and licensing
  • Offences and penalties
  • Regulation and enforcement
  • Jurisdictional issues (Other relevant jurisdictions for OHSE practice (Electrical Safety, Mining Safety, Maritime Safety, Explosives etc, Interface with Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Law as it applies to OHS practice, Interface with Public Safety, EEO and Discrimination Law as it applies to OHS practice)

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This Unit uses a combination of active learning (reading, writing, discussion and problem solving) and peer learning (engaging with the Lecturer and peers via discussion forums and online classroom discussions and activities). Live online classrooms will be offered at regular intervals throughout the teaching period to allow students’ synchronous access to their lecturer and peers at defined times or ACU Online 10 week asynchronous delivery mode. This type of learning environment can be challenging in terms of encouraging student interaction and participation, and the Unit’s teaching methods have been chosen because they are most likely to support the achievement of learning outcomes and participation by a geographically diverse cohort of students.

ACU Online

This unit uses an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of knowledge essential to the discipline. Students are provided with choice and variety in how they learn. Students are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions. Active learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to practice and apply their learning in situations similar to their future professions. Activities encourage students to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding, application and engage constructively with their peers. Students receive regular and timely feedback on their learning, which includes information on their progress.

Assessment strategy and rationale

Three assessment items are required in this Unit. The first, based around online discussion, requires students to combine their research skills to answer specific questions or activities about law cases posted each week for discussion. It also requires students to consider and respond to views expressed or questions posed by other students. The second is an analytical report of a selected court case where the provisions of the work/occupational health and safety legislation are applied or interpreted in the court judgement /decision. It requires students to demonstrate research and analytical skills to write this report and the ability to understand and follow the structured law reporting process outlined. The third assessment is an investigations report based on an authentic case scenario designed to assess students’  understanding of the application of law concepts to a factually based workplace incident. The scenario requires students to demonstrate in a practical way how they would apply work health and safety law concepts and legislative provisions to the workplace from the evidence presented.

To pass this unit, students are required to achieve an overall mark of at least 50%. The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for students to demonstrate their achievement of each learning outcome. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Online Discussion: This task consists of the submission of no more than 1000-written words curated from the Discussion Forum (entailing three of the student’s own posts as well as three of their responses to other students’ posts). This task requires students to critically  appraise, interpret and evaluate the effectiveness of the OHSE legal framework and instruments including functions, provisions and terms applicable in workplace contexts.

Submission Type: Individual

Assessment Method: Discussion Forum Activity

Artefact: Written discussion forum posts


LO1, LO2

GA4, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 2: Case Analysis Report: This task consists of a 1500-word case analysis report. This task requires students to find, doctrinally analyse, and legally interpret a case dealing with WHS legislation to determine possible breaches and communicate effectively recommendations to address breaches identified.

Submission Type: Individual

Assessment Method: Case Analysis Report

Artefact: Written report


LO2, LO4

GA5, GA8, GA10

Assessment Task 3: Legal Findings Report

This task consists of a 1500-word written brief of evidence investigations report. This task requires students to interpret OHSE law and forensically apply it in factually based OHSE case scenarios. Students will be required to identify breaches and their impact on organisational and individual responsibility to the common good, the environment and society and communicate this to various stakeholders and make recommendations for compliance.

Submission Type: Individual

Assessment Method: Report

Artefact: Written report


LO3, LO4

GA2, GA5, GA10

Representative texts and references

Recommended references

Forster, N, 2016, Workplace Health and Safety Law in Australia, 2nd edn, LexisNexis Butterworths, Chatswood NSW

Further references

Creyke, R, Hamer, D, O’Mara, P, Smith, B, & Taylor, T 2018, Laying down the law 10th edn, Lexis Nexis Butterworths, Sydney

Pearce, D C; Geddes, R S (2019), Statutory Interpretation in Australia. 9th Edn, LexisNexis Butterworth, Sydney

Johnstone, R, Bluff, E & Clayton, A 2012, Work health and safety law and policy, 3rd ed, Thomson

Johnstone, R & Tooma M 2012, Work health and safety regulation in Australia. The Model Act, Federation Press, Sydney.

Pearce, D C; Geddes, R S (2019), Statutory Interpretation in Australia. 9th Edn, LexisNexis Butterworth, Sydney


Tooma, M 2011, Safety, security, health and environmental law, Federation Press, Sydney.

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs