Workplace Health & Safety

What is Workplace Health and Safety or Occupational Health and safety?

 

OHS is concerned with:

  • physical hazards
  • acute or sudden events causing an immediate accident, injury, or loss
  • adverse affects of longer-term, chronic exposures to forces causing or capable of causing disease
  • environmental forces.

 

Accidents in businesses can affect overall vitality, stability, and success and should be avoided at all costs.

 

Laws and regulations impose obligations on people who have the capacity to affect the workplace health and safety of others by what they do or fail to do.

 

If these obligations are breached they can cause:

  • accidents, illnesses and even deaths
  • an employer to be prosecuted by criminal or civil charges which can result in fines or imprisonment
  • legal claims against the business resulting in payment of damages
  • improvement notices and prohibition notices to be issued
  • cancellation or suspensions of licenses, approvals and certificates
  • publicity, bad press and damage to reputations
  • changes to entire industries through the issuing of advisory standards, industry codes or practices

 

Am I as an employee covered by a Workplace Health and Safety Act?

 

Employees’ rights

Workers have the right to:

  • a safe workplace
  • be consulted on matters that may affect their health and safety
  • information about hazards in their workplace
  • representations on committees that make decisions in relation to OHS
  • refuse to perform dangerous work

 

The laws aim to prevent employees being killed, injured or contracting an illness by preventing or minimising exposure to risk.

 

If hazards are eliminated or at least controlled to an acceptable level, then the root cause of the problem will be managed and workers’ health will be protected.

 

Do the laws apply to you?

 

The laws differ between each state and territory in Australia.  They are wide and can apply to:

  • An employer
  • A worker
  • A self-employed person
  • A principal contractor
  • A supplier of certain plant
  • a persons in control of workplaces
  • a manufacturer importer or supplier
  • A visitor to a workplace e.g. customer or sales representative
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