Reading time: 3 minutes

Under Commonwealth laws, employers have to proactively manage work health and safety laws in their workplace by implementing a Workplace Health and Safety Policy.  The emphasis is on prevention and risk management; you need to identify potential hazards and work to eliminate or mitigate them. You also need to consult with employees about safety risks, keep records of injuries to determine any patterns and monitor whether your control measures are working.

Taking Care and Being Proactive 

According to Safe Work Australia, the tool for understanding this positive duty is “due diligence”.  Safe Work Australia says “this means taking every precaution that is reasonable in the circumstances to protect the health, safety and welfare of all workers and others who could be put at risk from work carried out as part of the business or undertaking”.  They explain this includes:

  • setting up a well-documented system for identifying, reporting, and responding to all actual and potential hazards in the workplace;
  • ensuring safe practices, procedures and controls are in place that are specific to the hazards in your workplace that either meet or exceed the requirements set out in the WHS legislation—including relevant approved Codes of Practice;
  • providing ongoing instruction and training to supervisors, managers and workers;
  • communicating regularly with workers about foreseeable health and safety hazards; and
  • allocating adequate time and resources for health and safety, including health and safety committees.

You must take a Preventive Approach 

As an employer, you have a non-delegable duty of care to your employees to protect their health and safety at work.  In determining what is reasonably practicable you need to weigh up:

  • the likelihood of a hazard or risk occurring (in essence the probability of a person being exposed to harm);
  • the degree of harm that might result if the hazard or risk occurred (in essence the potential seriousness of injury or harm);
  • what the person concerned knows, or ought to reasonably know, about the hazard or risk and ways of eliminating or minimising it;
  • the availability of suitable ways to eliminate or minimise the hazard or risk; and
  • the cost of eliminating or minimising the hazard or risk.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

The tools that are available to the work health and safety regulators include:

  • giving advice on compliance and seeking voluntary compliance;
  • resolving or assisting parties resolve certain work health and safety disputes;
  • issuing a prohibition notice;
  • issuing an improvement notice;
  • seeking an injunction;
  • issuing an infringement notice;
  • accepting an enforceable undertaking;
  • commencing a civil or criminal prosecution;
  • penalties of up to $3m for corporations or $300,000 for individuals;
  • revoking, suspending or cancelling authorisations; and
  • publishing enforcement actions and outcomes.

If you’ve got any questions on your obligations under work health and safety laws, it’s important that you speak with an employment lawyer.

Webinars

Trade Marks 101

Thursday 17 June | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Your trade mark is one of the most valuable assets of your business. It is therefore crucial to understand how to protect your trade mark, avoid disputes, and prevent competitors from infringing on your rights.
Register Now

Expanding Your Australian Business into New Zealand

Thursday 24 June | 11:00am - 12:00pm

Online
Looking to expand your business into New Zealand? Don’t get tripped up on common mistakes.
Register Now

Preventing Wage Underpayment in Your Business

Thursday 8 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Learn how to identify and prevent wage underpayment in your business.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.

The majority of our clients are LVConnect members. By becoming a member, you can stay ahead of legal issues while staying on top of costs. From just $119 per week, get all your contracts sorted, trade marks registered and questions answered by experienced business lawyers.

Learn more about LVConnect

Need Legal Help? Get a Free Fixed-Fee Quote

If you would like to receive a free fixed-fee quote or get in touch with our team, fill out the form below.

  • 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation – Finalist – Australasian Law Awards 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice – Winner – Australasian Lawyer 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards
  • Most Innovative Law Firm - 2019 Australasian Lawyer 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer