Duty of care
Everyone in the workplace has a role to play in occupational health and safety, however, under the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act, ultimate responsibility for providing a safe workplace rests with the employer. The OHS Act stipulates the obligations of various people at work, several of which are outlined below. The OHS Act also qualifies these obligations with defence provisions where it is not reasonably practicable to comply or the duty holder had no control over the matter and it was impracticable to make provision.
Employers must ensure the health and welfare of all employees by providing, for example:
• a safe workplace environment, free of risks to health
• safe work systems and procedures
• information, instruction, training and supervision for all employees
• a process for consulting with employees, involving them in decisions and informing them of decisions that may affect their health and safety
• processes for identifying hazards, assessing risks and elimination or control of risks
• processes for regular review of risk control measures.
Employers must also ensure that people other than employees, who are on the worksite, are not exposed to risks to their health and safety arising from the employer’s work systems or environments.
Managers, coordinators and supervisors
It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that managers, coordinators and supervisors are aware of and trained to undertake certain responsibilities with respect to OHS. Managers, coordinators and supervisors have a responsibility to ensure that premises, equipment or substances under their control, are safe and without risks to health. They are accountable for taking practical measures to ensure that:
• the OHS program is complied with, in the area under their control
• employees are supervised and trained to meet their requirements under this program
• identified hazards under their control are addressed
• employees and volunteers are consulted on issues that affect their health and safety
• any OHS concerns are referred to management.
It is the responsibility of each employee:
• to take reasonable care of the health and safety of others in the workplace
• to cooperate with employers in their efforts to comply with OHS requirements such as following procedures and participating in hazard identification and reporting
• to use equipment properly in order to provide for the heath and safety of people in the
It is the responsibility of each self-employed person to take reasonable action to ensure that people are not exposed to foreseeable health or safety risks arising from the conduct of the self-employed person’s undertaking.
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