Workplace Health & Safety
Workplace Health & Safety rules and expectations provide a framework to protect the workplace health, safety and welfare of all workers and all other people who might be affected by the work.
General Health and Safety Obligations
To understand your obligations and safety requirements you must be familiar with the:
National Work Health and Safety Act 2011, which imposes obligations on people at workplaces to ensure workplace health and safety
WH&S Codes of Practice which are designed to give practical advice about ways to manage exposure to risks common to industry.
Every Queensland employer must have workers’ compensation insurance. Most employers insure with WorkCover Queensland, while a small number of large organisations have their own insurance. This insurance coverage ensures that employees injured at work receive financial support.
What you must do – managing risk
Risks must be assessed and control measures then implemented and reviewed to prevent or minimise exposure to the risks.
If the regulation describes how to prevent or minimise a risk at your workplace you must do what the regulation says. If there is a code of practice that describes how to prevent or minimise a risk at your workplace you must do what the code says or adopt and follow another way that gives the same level of protection against the risk.
If there is no regulation or code of practice about a risk at your workplace you must choose an appropriate way to manage exposure to the risk. People must, where there is no regulation or code of practice about a risk, take reasonable precautions and exercise proper diligence against the risk.
- To properly manage exposure to risks, a person must:
- Look for the hazards
- Determine who might be harmed and how
- Decide on control measures
- Put controls in place
- Review the controls
Control measures should be implemented in the following order:
- Get rid of the harm or prevent the risk … if this is not possible, then …
- Replace with something less harmful
- Separate people from the harm
- Change work processes or the physical work environment, for example, by redesigning work, plant, equipment, components or premises
- Apply administrative arrangements, for example, limit entry or time spent in a hazardous area
- Use personal protective equipment
Working in Extreme Heat – the legal risks
January 2019 was Australia’s hottest month on record since records began in 1910. The Bureau of Meteorology described its climate summary for the month as “unprecedented” and said global warming contributed to the heatwave. Temperatures soared across the country but were highest in Port Augusta, S.A, reaching up to 49.5C.
Extreme heat is a health and safety hazard. According to Safe Work Australia, the human body needs to maintain a temperature of around 37 degrees Celsius – the optimum temperature. If the temperature of the human body becomes too high, heat-related illness is the result.
Extreme heat is not just an issue for outdoor workers. All workplaces have an obligation to manage extreme heat, and everybody involved with a business has their part to play.
What happens if you develop heat-related illness?
If your body has to work too hard to stay cool or is unable to cool itself, the result is heat-related illness. Symptoms can range from rashes to cramps to reduced concentration. Heat exhaustion is what happens when the body is working too hard to stay cool while heat stroke, which can be deadly, takes place when the body is unable to.
Who has legal risks?
Every employer has a responsibility to provide workers with a safe place to work. Risking employee’s health and safety by failing to maintain a safe temperature to work in can leave employers liable for WorkCover claims and Occupational Health and Safety Investigations. Everybody has legal responsibilities, not just bosses.
Who has legal duties under Workplace Health and Safety?
Under WH&S laws, everyone involved with a workplace has a responsibility to minimise the risks involved with working in heat. The person(s) running the business have a responsibility to eliminate minimise risks as much as possible and to consult with workers. Building designers and manufacturers have a responsibility that buildings are designed and installed with adequate safety measures in place. Company directors must exercise due diligence to ensure the workplace complies with WH&S regulations while workers have a duty to take reasonable care of their own safety and those of other employees.
What to do if your workplace is unreasonably hot
If heat is a problem you’ve previously raised with your workplace and they haven’t done anything about it, you don’t have to simply tolerate it. Gather evidence of the issue by speaking to your fellow workers, collecting surveys etc. Meet with your employer again, negotiate a way to control the cause or source, and propose to develop a heat policy with management. Contact your union or workplace inspector for advice. If your workplace fails to improve the situation, inform management that you will be issuing a Provisional Improvement Notice (PIN). Details on how to do this should be available from your state’s occupational health and safety organisation, such as SafeWork NSW or WorkSafe VIC.
Workers Compensation is intended to support workers who have been injured on the job. Our legal team are experts in worker’s compensation law and will help you make a claim so you can regain your independence.
Practical guidance on how to manage the risks associated with working in heat.
This Guide from Safe Work Australia provides practical guidance for a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU) on how to manage the risks associated with working in heat and information on what to do if a worker begins to suffer from a heat-related illness.
One stop shop for all information about Heath & Safety in Queensland workplaces.
An Australian government statutory body established in 2008 to develop national policy relating to WHS and workers’ compensation, working in partnership with governments, employers and employees—to drive national policy development on WHS and workers’ compensation matters:
- develop and evaluate national policy and strategies
- develop and evaluate the model WHS legislative framework
- undertake research, and
- collect, analyse and report data
Guide to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011
This guide provides an overview of the Queensland Work Health and Act 2011 (WHS Act). It is designed to help people understand their health and safety duties and rights in the workplace.
It also provides information on:
- the requirements for consultation between business operators, worker representatives and workers;
- the notification of incidents; enforcement procedures;
- what constitutes an offence under the WHS Act and the range of penalties that apply.
This guide provides an overview for the rural industry about the Queensland Work Health and Act 2011 (WHS Act). It is designed to help people understand their health and safety duties and rights in the workplace.
Everyone has a right to be safe at work, including volunteers. Volunteers play a vital role in communities across Australia and make significant contributions by carrying out unpaid work for a variety of organisations every day.
The information on the website outlines ways volunteers can meet their work health and safety duties and explains what volunteers can expect from the organisations they volunteer for. It also provides information for organisations that employ workers and engage volunteers and how the new Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws apply to them.
The steps to implementing a workplace health & safety culture in your workplace.
The WHS legislation requires persons who conduct a business or undertaking (PCBUs) to manage all work health and safety risks, so that the health and safety of workers and other people are not affected by an organisation’s conduct.
- Do you want to find out how to meet your ‘duty of care’ obligations to your volunteers?
Is managing safety an area you find confusing and difficult? If you answered ‘YES’ to either of these questions then the In Safe Hands Toolkit is for you. Community organisations (e.g. Landcare) throughout Australia make a significant contribution to the health and restoration of the natural environment. The volunteers within these organisations require appropriate management with respect to safety on activities.
The Work Health and Safety Board, the peak advisory Board to the Government on work health and safety issues, has developed a five-year plan to make Queensland safer … //… four main areas to focus on over the next five years … embracing innovation and technology, designing healthy and safe work, fostering a culture of health and safety, and regulating effectively.
The purpose of this alert is to highlight the risk of strangulation when participating in high ropes adventure courses.
In May 2018, a participant on a high ropes adventure course was strangled in a non-fatal incident when two lanyards (cows-tails) attached to a sit harness and overhead line became taut on either side of the participant’s neck.
In 2015, a similar non-fatal incident occurred at another Queensland high ropes course.
Source: Workplace Health & Safety (2018)
Swimming pools are used mainly by children and young people as an avenue for having fun. While the death of anyone from drowning is a tragedy, the death of a child or a young person is catastrophic …
The Royal Life Saving Society Australia (RLSSA) has developed guidelines, in consultation with the aquatics industry across Australia, to provide advice to the industry on the minimum requirements to prevent or minimise the risk of drowning in publicly accessible pools.
See also Managing risks at publicly accessible pools (PDF, 212.56 KB) for an information guide for owners, operators and controllers of public swimming pools.