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Occupational Health and Safety
Every employer has the duty to provide a safe workplace. Workplace safety is regulated by State law and imposes very strict requirements.
We all know the importance of safety in the workplace, but in legal terms what exactly is meant by the phrase “safe workplace”? This expression really covers everything that goes on at work. The building and premises itself must be safe. The equipment must be safe – for example, any plant or machinery must be maintained in safe condition. There must be protocols for the use of hazardous chemicals or substances. Arrangements must be made for the safety of any visitors to the premises.
A common phrase you will encounter in OH &S law is a “safe system of work”. This is an expression that really goes to the heart of what OH & S law is about. It is not enough for an employer to simply provide satisfactory premises and equipment and expect employees to avoid injury by using “common sense”.
The employer needs to be active in alerting staff to any dangers in the workplace, providing suitable training on how to deal with these dangers and ensuring that these procedures are being followed. Any safety concerns raised by staff should receive genuine consideration.
Employers need to demonstrate a continuing commitment to OH & S by regularly inspecting equipment and reviewing procedures to ensure that they are safe.