Stopping unsafe work

The law enables workers to stop or refuse to carry out unsafe work if there is a reasonable concern they would be exposed to a serious health or safety risk arising from an immediate or imminent exposure to a workplace hazard.

A trained HSR - one who has completed an approved HSR training course, or previously completed that training when acting as an HSR of another work group - can direct workers in their work group to immediately stop work if the risk is so imminent that there is no time to consult.

As soon as practicable after doing so, HSRs must consult with their employer to control the identified risk.

Where the risk is not serious, immediate or imminent, HSRs must first consult with their employer which may involve following an agreed issue resolution procedure or, if there isn’t one, the default procedure in the WHS Regulations.

HSRs, employers and workers can ask us to provide an inspector to help resolve an issue arising from the cessation of work. Call our Help Centre on 1300 365 255.


If you stop or refuse to carry out unsafe work without the involvement of your HSR, or if you don’t have a HSR, you must:

  • notify your employer as soon as practicable
  • remain available to carry out suitable alternative work.


You may direct workers to carry out suitable alternative work at the same or another workplace until they can resume normal duties. The work must be safe and appropriate for the worker.