Safety in the workplace is a critical issue for all employers and employees. Employers and apprentices have a right to work in a safe environment and to commence and conclude each work day in the same physical and mental state.
Both employers and apprentices have respective obligations in relation to laws around occupational safety and health (OSH), each playing a role in creating a productive and risk-free work environment.
It is very important to note that “safety in the workplace” is not limited to just the physical safety of employers and apprentices. While physical safety is extremely important, “safety in the workplace” also includes the need to protect employees and employers from bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination, as each of these issues can have a significant negative effect on the health of an individual.
What does the law say?
The Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA) regulates workplace safety in Western Australia.
The OHS Act places obligations and duties of care on both employers and employees to prevent or reduce workplace risks and hazards, thereby maintaining the health and safety of staff and any visitors to the workplace.
As well as general laws around safety, regulations and codes of practice exist for specific industries and work activities.
The Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 (WA) covers a range of work duties and activities, such as working with hazardous materials, demolition, electrical work and other specialised services. Penalties may apply if employers or employees breach regulations covering these activities.
Codes of practice set out recommended guidelines for certain industries and work activities. Codes of practice are not laws or regulations, so generally there are no penalties for breaching a code. However, code breaches may be taken into consideration when deciding whether any laws have been broken.
Who can I contact?
Worksafe provides information on workplace health and safety
Ph: 1300 30 78 77
The EOC provides information on workplace discrimination and/or sexual harassment
Ph: 9216 3900
The FWC provides information on workplace bullying
Ph: 1300 799 675