OH&S Obligations

While OH&S law differs from state to state in Australia the intent of all is similar and assigns specific responsibilities to the employer for the welfare of employees.


Responsibilities of employers

An employer must ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of all the employees of the employer. That duty extends (without limitation) to the following:

(a) ensuring that any premises controlled by the employer where the employees work (and the means of access to or exit from the premises) are safe and without risks to health,

(b) ensuring that any plant or substance provided for use by the employees at work is safe and without risks to health when properly used,

(c) ensuring that systems of work and the working environment of the employees are safe and without risks to health,

(d) providing such information, instruction, training and supervision as may be necessary to ensure the employees’ health and safety at work,

(e) providing adequate facilities for the welfare of the employees at work.

Generally the employer’s responsibilities are extended to all levels of management. Directors and managers are responsible for OHS within their areas of control and influence. They are the employer’s representatives and have the responsibility, authority and delegation for resourcing, developing, implementing and reviewing policies and procedures.

All management or supervisor positions have a responsibility for the health and safety of all staff reporting to them. This responsibility is limited to the scope of their control, authority or influence. In some circumstances, supervisors are regarded as employees.

Employees also have responsibilities

Specifically, they are required to:

  • cooperate with the employer in their efforts to provide a safe and healthy workplace, .e. follow safe systems of work, use equipment according to procedure, participate in training, and report any risks or injuries
  • take reasonable care not to endanger anyone else by what you do (actions) or what you fail to do (omissions). Employees are also obliged by the OHS Regulation (clause 28) to report anything that could reduce the employer’s ability to comply with the OHS Act. This could include reporting:
  1. hazards
  2. an injury or accident
  3. faulty equipment
  4. unsafe work practices, or work practices that employees are unable to comply with Any of these situations could increase the risk to the employee, colleagues or others in the workplace.

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