The Federation Press

OHS Regulation for a Changing World of Work


This volume assesses the legacy of the Robens Report, the intellectual foundation of modern OHS law and practice in Australia and many other countries, following the Report’s 30th anniversary.

The authors confront the challenges facing OHS regulators and stakeholders in a new and different world dominated by service industries and globalisation rather than manufacturing industries and protection. They explore new models of OHS regulation that take account of gaps and deficiencies in the current arrangements.

The authors bring international expertise from the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Scandinavia as well as Australia. They focus on the kinds of regulatory strategies, including both OHS law and enforcement policy, that are most likely to produce good OHS outcomes in this changing world of work.

Particular topics examined are:

  • the type, mix, content and coverage of OHS standards,
  • systematic OHS management and the development of organisational capability,
  • strategies for effective worker participation and representation,
  • models for achieving small business compliance,
  • regulatory responses to changes in work organisation, responsive enforcement and adapted inspection, and
  • restorative justice.


There is a wealth of evidence contained in this volume for OHS policymakers and those who are embarking on regulatory evaluation and change. Hopefully, the OHS authorities in all Australian jurisdictions will ensure that sufficient copies are made available to their inspectors and policymakers who subsequently act on the recommended actions. - Dr Claire Mayhew, J Occup Health Safety –Aust NZ 2005 21(3), 259

[Bluff, Gunningham and Johnstone] call into question contemporary forms of OHS regulation. ... The pattern of occupational injury has changed [in the 30 years since Robens], with more psychosocial problems and musculoskeletal disorders from a combination of work organisation, job content, worktime patterns, technology and workstation design, globalisation and the substantial increase in small enterprises. The eight chapters in the book develop the theme by exploring the impact of these changes and attempts to respond to regulatory challenges presented. The theme is interwoven throughout all chapters and there is considerable cross-referencing to other papers in the volume, making this a very tightly drawn focus on the material – something that is often lacking in edited volumes and is to be commended. ... The book makes for an extremely interesting read. It provides a broader perspective from which we may consider the wider ramifications of economic and labour market changes and clearly explores how 30 years of change affects regulatory effectiveness and relevance. The book is highly recommended ... - Glenda Maconachie, Labour and Industry, Vol 16(2), Dec 2005

This book brings together a cohesive collection of extremely well-researched papers. The contributors provide a sound understanding of existing weaknesses in OHS regulation, while also presenting innovative solutions. ... It contains an abundance of thought-provoking ideas. - Elsa Underhill, Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol 47 No 4, Dec 2005

Table of Contents

Principle, process, performance or what? New approaches to OHS standards setting
Elizabeth Bluff and Neil Gunningham

Organisational development for occupational health and safety management
Kaj Frick

Workplace arrangements for health and safety at work in the twenty-first century
David Walters

Regulating occupational health and safety in small businesses: some challenges and some ways forward
Felicity Lamm and David Walters

Regulating flexible work and organisational arrangements
Michael Quinlan

From fiction to fact – rethinking OHS enforcement
Richard Johnstone

Developing inspection strategies to support local activities
Per Langaa Jensen and Jens Jensen

Thinking laterally: restorative and responsive regulation of OHS
John Braithwaite

Of interest...