What is workplace safety?
Workplace safety, also known as occupational health and safety, involves the management of risks to the health, welfare and safety of everyone in the workplace. As an employee in Australia, one of your workplace rights is to have a safe environment to work in.
In NSW, all employers must also comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act. However, sometimes accidents can’t be avoided and workplace injuries occur. Compensation law is extremely difficult to navigate, so it’s highly recommended that anyone who has sustained a workplace injury seeks legal advice from qualified workers compensation lawyers, like the team at Owen Hodge.
Employer & employee responsibilities for workplace safety
The employer’s responsibilities
As a business owner or operator, you have far reaching legal obligations to provide and maintain a safe and healthy workplace. These obligations do not just relate to your employees, but also to the people who interact with your business.
What are the three basic safety rights in the workplace?
- Provide a safe workplace for employees – including protection and ensuring risks are minimised throughout processes.
- Ensure employees can handle safety equipment in the event of an accident or emergency.
- Provide the required training and information in regards to the performance of their duties.
In addition to this, employers are also obligated to have the following systems in place:
- Risk identification
- Risk assessment
- Risk prevention
- Incident response and crisis management
While there are general legal obligations relating to workplace health and safety that apply to all businesses, there are many industry specific obligations that are set out in guidance and codes of practice. To ensure you are complying with your obligations, we highly recommend speaking to an experienced employment lawyer.
The NSW Work Health And Safety Act 2011 also works to protect employees and ensure they have a workplace that is free from workplace bullying, sexual harassment or age discrimination. Failure to comply with the Act will usually result in liability and penalties for employers.
Furthermore, it is important that employees ensure they act according to workplace safety guidelines and they do not put anyone into dangerous situations, as compensation may be denied in such instances.
What are 4 common workplace hazards?
- Physical hazards: including objects that can be tripped over, working at a height, frayed or damaged electrical cords or machinery with exposed moving parts
- Biological hazards: including bodily fluids that increase the risk of being exposed to viruses, bacteria and pathogens, as well as fungus or mould.
- Ergonomic hazards: a hazard that can put a strain on a person’s musculoskeletal system, such as repetitive or strenuous movements throughout the day.
- Chemical hazards: including any chemicals that aren’t labeled clearly, stored properly or used without proper precautions.
Steps to take after a workplace injury occurs
If an accident occurs while at or travelling to work, there are some steps that need to be followed, including:
- Ensuring the employer and the insurer are notified as soon as possible.
- It is always a good idea to contact WorkCover, seek medical help and contact a legal representative to advise you further.
- Attaining all the necessary compensation forms and ensuring they are filled out.
In assessing whether the compensation claim was a result of the job, all circumstances will be considered including:
- The particular task
- The hereditary nature of the injury and;
- The likelihood of injury outside of the course of employment
As an employer you need to take steps to ensure that legitimately injured employees are not terminated unfairly. If you find yourself in this position as an employee, speak to our unfair dismissal lawyers.
- Difference between unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal
- Terminating employees on workers compensation
Workplace safety is one of the most heavily regulated areas that business owners and operators came across in their day to day operations. Which is why it’s in everybody’s best interests, and your legal obligation, to work towards preventing accidents in the workplace.
If you have any questions about health and safety at the workplace or workplace injury laws, speak to the occupational health and safety lawyers at Owen Hodge.