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Occupational Health & Safety Law and Obligations

Following safety rules and responsibilities is critical to the success of your business, no matter what size. Understanding and complying with the OH&S laws will help you avoid unnecessary costs as well as the possible damage to your business which can occur if workplace illness and injury arises. In Australia, the creation and enforcement of laws regarding occupational health and safety (OH&S) are the responsibility of individual states and territories. As a result, each state and territory has various laws relating to workplace safety including a principal OH&S Act, which sets out the obligations and requirements for ensuring that workplaces are safe and healthy.

Current System

It is important for employers to be aware of their legal obligations under the relevant Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations in each respective state and meet those obligations in full.

Currently under each OHS Act, every employer has a duty of care to ensure that an employee is safe from injury and health risks at work. Depending on the state or territory that you work in, additional mandated requirements for employers may also be required. However, as a minimum requirement, employers are obliged to provide:

  • Safe premises
  • Safe machinery and substances
  • Safe systems of work
  • Information, training and supervision, instruction
  • Suitable working environment and facilities
  • Health and safety to others present at the workplace who are not your workers

The acts of each state also provide responsibilities and obligations for employees in the workplace. As a worker you must:

  • Take reasonable care for the health and safety of your co-workers who may suffer by your actions
  • Cooperate with your employer with anything they may require of you in order to ensure a safe workplace
  • Work safely
  • Use and maintain all equipment properly
  • Make sure your work area is free of hazards.

Upcoming New Reforms in OHS

With 10 principal occupational health and safety (OHS) laws in place in Australia and over 400 OHS regulations and codes of practice across all states, the federal government has proposed to undergo a significant overhaul of Occupational Health and Safety laws by introducing a nationally harmonised legislation. As of 1 January 2012, nationally harmonised Workplace Health &Safety (WHS) legislation will be implemented. This will create consistent legislation and result in a major shift away from the current system which is set up on separate state based laws. As a result, businesses must adjust to a completely new set of safety duties, and change the way they do business to comply with a new range of OHS obligations. While the proposed federal Act will be mainly the same as the OHS laws implemented in each state, there are a number of important differences.

Under the proposed new laws, employers will be required to:

  • Exercise due diligence
  • Acquire and keep up-to-date knowledge of work health and safety matters
  • Gain an understanding of the nature of the operations of the business and the hazards and risks associated with those operations
  • Have available for use appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety; and
  • Ensure the business has appropriate processes for receiving and considering information regarding safety incidents, hazards and risks and responding in a timely way to that information.

What Can We Do?

Quinn Lawyers can advice you on all your various other responsibilities regarding Occupation Health and Safety in order to avoid unnecessary illness and or injury and the costs associated. To speak with the team about how OHS laws may apply to you, please or contact us to organise a consultation. Our dedicated team will deal with your problem in a sympathetic, time efficient and cost effective manner. Send an online enquiry or call us on +61 2 9223 9166.

Contact us to organise a consultation. Our dedicated team will deal with your problem in a sympathetic, time efficient and cost effective manner. Send an online enquiry or call us on 1300 QUINNS (784 667).

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The Quinn Group operates Quinn Consultants, Quinn Lawyers, Quinn Financial Planning and Quinn Financial Solutions. The Quinn Group provides related information in regard to legal, accounting and financial planning issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation* *other than for the acts or omissions of financial services licensees.