Employees in the Hunter region could be at risk, as new research shows 81 percent of Australian small businesses don't understand their workplace safety obligations.
The Employsure Workplace Safety Index revealed small businesses are finding it too complex and time consuming to keep up with the changes and paperwork required.
Head of Advice at Employsure, Josh Vikis said there is a lot of information and mis-information out there about what their obligations are, confusing many small businesses who want to do the right thing.
"It is not always obvious industries at risk," he said.
Mining, construction, storage warehousing, retail and hairdressing were said by Vikis to be some of the industries at risk of non-compliance.
The research also revealed many businesses are relying on Google to find answers. Vikis advised as a first step, businesses should conduct an internal discussion if they think there are gaps in the workplace creating hazards for employees.
He also said businesses can consult external bodies for advice on creating a safer workplace and help with issues such as bullying and work realated injuries.
Vikis said investment in education and tools by the government could assist in reducing non-compliance rather than a "big-stick penalty" when an incident does occur.