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Work Health & Safety (risk management)

In 2011, Safe Work Australia developed the model work health and safety (WHS) laws to be implemented across Australia. To become legally binding the Commonwealth, states and territories must separately implement them as their own laws. Safe Work Australia is responsible for maintaining the model WHS laws, but they don’t regulate or enforce them.

Safe Work Australia is the place to seek more information on what community garden policies and practices might require:


You can check with your insurance provider whether they have a risk assessment template that is required to be completed before any large community garden event you might organise.

For example, if your garden is insured with Garden Clubs of Australia, they have a form on how to report an incident — download their form: insurance incident report form

Examples of WHS policies and guidelines


Sustainable Neighbourhood Alliance, Lake Macquarie:

Ballina Community Gardens

  • Occupational Health & Safety policy – download as a PDF — it covers:
    • identifying hazards
    • the cost of failure
    • working safely
    • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    • manual handling
    • slips, trips and falls
    • working with soils and compost
    • using hand tools
    • sun sense
    • using the mower
    • using the whipper-snipper
    • snakes, spiders and creepy crawlies
    • evacuation and reporting.


City of Marion:


West Moonah Community House

  • an example of WHS policy for a neighbourhood house that includes a community garden


Canterbury Community Gardens


Bungaree Community Centre

Knox Community Garden Society Inc

  • Health & Safety Policy which covers
    • statement
    • health & safety issues and risks
    • first aid
    • emergency contacts
    • reporting injuries and incidents
    • managing risks/risk audits
    • health and allergies
    • first aid for anaphylaxis
    • emotional wellbeing and mental health
    • manual handling
    • weeding
    • moving mulch
    • tools and equipment
    • hazardous material and chemicals
    • asbestos
    • vehicles
    • storage
    • trips and falling hazards
    • personal protective equipment (PPE)
    • smoking
    • caring for children
    • gate
    • pets
    • signs
    • stings and bites
    • poisonous/dangerous plants
    • heat stress/sunburn
    • harassment and bullying
    • tools, especially knives left in plots
    • need help just ask
    • herbicides and pesticides
    • plastic
    • potting mixes, compost etc
    • COVID and other respiratory diseases
    • references.

Better Health Channel in Victoria has produced information on working safely in gardens that were produced in consultation with Victoria State Government Department of Health and Horticultural Therapy Association of Victoria Inc:

  • visit their website on garden safety — this web article covers:
    • be sun smart in the garden
    • lawnmower safety
    • gardening equipment safety
    • don’t overdo it in the garden
    • hand safety in the garden
    • Legionnaires’ disease and gardening safety
    • child safety in the garden
    • safety in the garden for older people
    • where to get help.

Community Gardens Australia

CGA has developed an information sheet on Thinking about Safety