OH&S Consulting


Your Health and Safety Legal Obligations

The law requires every organisation to maintain a duty of care; to take steps to see that no person is exposed to a risk to their health and safety from the way in which a business is operated. A breach of this duty may result in a criminal prosecution or claims for damages.

By law, you must provide a safe and healthy workplace for your workers and contractors.

This includes:

Providing and maintaining safe plant (such as machinery and equipment) and safe systems of work (such as controlling entry to high risk areas, controlling work pace and frequency and providing systems to prevent falls from heights).

Preventing exposure to elevated noise levels.

Implementing arrangements for the safe use, handling, storage and transport of plant and substances (such as dangerous goods and harmful chemicals or materials).

Maintaining the safe condition of the workplace (such as ensuring fire exits are not blocked, emergency equipment is serviceable, and general housekeeping).

Providing workers and contractors with adequate facilities (such as clean toilets, cool and clean drinking water, and hygienic eating areas).

Making sure workers have adequate information, instruction, training and supervision to work in a safe and healthy manner.

You must also:

Adequately monitor your workers' health (such as providing hearing tests for workers exposed to high noise levels, providing blood tests for workers exposed to lead and monitoring fatigue levels of transport workers).

Keep information and records relevant to your workers' health and safety (such as records of biological monitoring, asbestos identification and assessments, hearing tests, first aid records and relevant medical information).

Employ or engage people with the necessary qualifications or expertise to advise you on health and safety issues affecting your workers.

Consult with employees on matters that may directly affect their health, safety or welfare.

Nominate a senior management representative to deal with workers and their health and safety representatives in resolving health and safety issues at the workplace.

Generally monitor conditions at the workplace.

Provide your workers with information in appropriate languages about your workplace health and safety arrangements, including the names of those to whom the workers can make an inquiry or complaint.

What you must do is exercise such care and take such steps as far as is reasonably practicable to avoid a foreseeable risk of injury. This will depend on the facts in each case, with reference to:

  • severity of the hazard or risk
  • state of knowledge about that hazard or risk and ways of removing or mitigating it
  • availability and suitability of ways to remove or mitigate that hazard or risk, and
  • cost of removing or mitigating that hazard or risk

Contact your nearest ESP office for further information on your health and safety obligations.

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