Do you understand what is required of you as a Manger or Employer regarding your “Duty of Care”?
The Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 provides for the promotion, co-ordination, administration and enforcement of occupational safety and health in Western Australia. With the objective of preventing occupational injuries and diseases, the Act places certain duties on employers, employees, self-employed persons, manufacturers, designers, importers and suppliers.
The OSH Act
The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act 1984 requires employers to provide a high standard of safety and health at their workplaces. This means that you need to ensure, as far as practicable, that your employees or workers, are not injured or harmed because of their work. This is called the employer’s ‘duty of care’.
Regulations are used to spell out the effect the specific requirements of the legislation, the Act. Regulations may outline minimum standards. They may have a more general application or they may define specific requirements related to a particular hazard (ie: noise) or a particular type of work (ie: spray painting). Regulations may also be in place for licensing or granting of approvals, certificates, etc. The new WA WHS regulations are expected to be introduced at some point, and these are likely to reflect some aspects of those in NSW and QLD.
Codes of practice
A code of practice is defined in the Act as a document prepared for the purpose of providing practical guidance on acceptable ways of achieving compliance with statutory duties and regulatory requirements. These should be followed, unless there is another solution which achieves the same or better result. They can be referred to to support prosecution for non-compliance.
Example of General Duties of Care
- Employers must provide a workplace where employees are not exposed to hazards
- Employers must provide a safe system of work
- Employees must take reasonable care for their own safety and health and that of others affected by their work
- Employers and self-employed people must, as far as practicable, look after their own safety and health and ensure that their work does not affect the safety and health of others
- Designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers must provide plant which is safe to install, maintain and use at workplaces
- All plant must be installed or erected so it can be used safely
- Safety and health information must be supplied with all plant and substances used at work
- Employees and safety and health representatives must consult and co-operate in matters related to safety and health at work
- Employers must provide employees with information, instruction, training and supervision to allow them to work in a safe manner
A useful reference, from which this information is taken, is the WA Department of Commerce Guidance Note on “General Duty of Care in Western Australian Workplaces”. This also has a good section outlining Contractors and Sub-contractors safety and duty of care.