Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who is responsible for workplace health and safety?
Using s 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) (WHS Act) as our guide, the primary duty of care for managing workplace health and safety risks rests with anyone conducting a business or undertaking, therefore, such an entity must ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of:
- employees engaged, or caused to be engaged with the employer; and
- employees whose activities in carrying out the work are influenced or directed by the employer.
Employers must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of employees is not put at risk from any work carried out. So, what does ‘reasonably practicable’ mean? Turning to s 19(3) of the WHS Act, reasonably practicable can entail the following:
“(a) the provision and maintenance of a work environment without risks to health and safety, and
(b) the provision and maintenance of safe plant and structures, and
(c) the provision and maintenance of safe systems of work, and
(d) the safe use, handling, and storage of plant, structures and substances, and
(e) the provision of adequate facilities for the welfare at work of workers in carrying out work for the business or undertaking, including ensuring access to those facilities, and
(f) the provision of any information, training, instruction or supervision that is necessary to protect all persons from risks to their health and safety arising from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking, and
(g) that the health of workers and the conditions at the workplace are monitored for the purpose of preventing illness or injury of workers arising from the conduct of the business or undertaking.
(a) a worker occupies accommodation that is owned by or under the management or control of the person conducting the business or undertaking, and
(b) the occupancy is necessary for the purposes of the worker’s engagement because other accommodation is not reasonably available,
the person conducting the business or undertaking must, so far as is reasonably practicable, maintain the premises so that the worker occupying the premises is not exposed to risks to health and safety.”
Under both the WHS Act and the Work Health and Safety Regulations (the WHS Regulations), a Code of Practice is in place (the Code) and applies to any type of work and place of employment covered by the WHS Act.
The Code covers:
- the physical work environment such as the workspace, lighting and ventilation;
- facilities used by employees such as toilets, drinking water, washing and dining areas, change rooms, lockers and sheltered areas;
- remote and isolated work;
- emergency plans.