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Occupational health and safety regulatory changes study

This research study investigates small to medium sized firms (SMEs), employing less than 200 staff, and their concerns with regulatory changes in occupational health and safety (OHS).

Regulatory reform has seen the introduction of harmonised Occupational Health and Safety laws across Australia from January 2012. The purpose of regulation is to enhance and maintain an efficient market economy, while, at the same time, providing safeguards for workers, consumers, firms and the environment.

Much regulation does not have smaller firms as its focus and thus they are disproportionately affected by regulatory regimes and in some circumstances they bear regulatory costs which are at least 35% higher than larger firms. Regulatory costs can be incurred from complying with policy or through the administration of the policy.

Research methods

This study will gather perceptions from small to medium sized businesses through an online survey and in-depth interviews.

The aim of the study is to determine support mechanisms and strategies to support SMEs in their efforts to comply with OHS legislation. This aim is consistent with the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2011 priority to improve the safety capabilities of smaller firms.


  • Professor Rowena Barrett (Centre for Innovative Practice, Edith Cowan University)
  • Dr Susanne Bahn (Centre for Innovative Practice, Edith Cowan University)
  • Dr Susan Mayson (Monash University)

Industry partner

  • Mr Martin Ralph - Industrial Foundation for Accident Prevention.

Funding body

  • Faculty of Business and Law, Strategic Research Fund.


  • April 2012 - November 2013.
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