Workplace Health & Safety – Where We All Stand

Workplace Health & Safety

All employees in Australia have a basic right to a safe and healthy workplace and it pays to know your rights.

Workplace health and safety (WHS), often referred to as Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) is the law in place to protect the safety, health and welfare of employees at their workplace. All workers, contractors, customers and suppliers have a basic right to perform their duties in a safe environment.

Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, which applies in most states and territories, ‘health’ relates to both the physical and psychological well-being of workers. For example, an injury incurred while using a machine, or a psychological illness like stress brought on by discrimination or bullying in the workplace, could both be considered in the context of workplace health and safety laws.

The WHS requirements and regulations businesses are expected to meet will depend on their state or territory. The employee’s industry could also determine which WHS laws apply. For example, a mining company has WHS requirements that would be different to a restaurant’s.

Duty of care of businesses/employers

Employers must provide a safe and healthy workplace for all workers. There is a wide range of health and safety obligations and these may differ across states and territories. It’s not as simple as keeping dangerous chemicals labelled correctly or ensuring that fire doors work, it is also the employer’s responsibility for example to provide adequate training and instruction and ensure employees have the relevant qualifications to perform their required tasks.

Employers have a legal obligation to:

  • provide safe physical and psychosocial work environment
  • assess risks and implement appropriate measures for controlling them
  • ensure safe use and handling of equipment and substances
  • provide and maintain safe machinery and materials
  • evaluate workplace layout and provide safe systems of work
  • provide a suitable working environment and facilities
  • have insurance and workers compensation insurance for employees.
  • inform, train and supervise employees where necessary to safeguard them from risks to their health and safety.

What does the law say?

In recent years, for consistency, Australian states and territories, with the exception of Victoria and Western Australia, have implemented the same WHS laws and are based on the Model Work Health and Safety Act. This has helped harmonise the way health and safety is regulated and enforced across the country.

In Victoria, WHS is governed by the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004. In Western Australia, it is the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.
Creating a safe work environment is a legal requirement and critical to the long term success of your business. It can help employees retain staff, increase their productivity, minimise injury and illness in the workplace and reduce the incidents and associated costs of workers’ compensation.

Creating a safe work environment

Both employers and their employees share a role in creating a safe workplace. While employers have a legal obligation to create and maintain a safe workplace, employees have work health and safety obligations to themselves and their workmates.

  • complying with instructions given for work health and safety,
  • speaking up and identifying potential hazards that may cause harm
  • using any provided personal protective equipment
  • not interfering or misusing anything provided for work health and safety at the workplace

Workplace safety is serious business, and although SafeWork NSW and other government agencies promote better work practices, accidents and incidents still happen that might make it necessary for the use of appropriate legal counsel. Workers compensation claims are straight-forward with Taylor & Scott. We offer the guidance for compiling and presenting documentation, resulting in optimum claim outcomes.

If you were injured at work, you have rights which need protecting. Our long-standing Taylor & Scott reputation is built on the ability of expert compensation lawyers, each with more than 15 years of experience winning compensation claims. We handle a broad range of cases ranging from minimal degree of injury to catastrophic cases, affecting young people and adults whose lives have been devastated by injury.

Contact us on 1800 600 664 or complete the Contact Form on this page.

At Taylor & Scott “We Care For You”.

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