Occupational safety and health and workers’ compensation

Occupational safety and health is a key area of ethical and legal responsibility for incorporated associations. Incorporated associations generally owe an obligation under both common law (duty of care) and the Western Australian occupational safety and health law to any volunteers, employees, contractors and visitors to their workplaces, under both common law (duty of care) and the Western Australian occupational safety and health law, to provide and maintain a safe and healthy working environment. Safety and health includes addressing potential safety and health risks from the physical working environment, as well as potential psychological and emotional harm from, for example, exposure to workplace bullying or workplace violence.

Associations are also required to comply with relevant local government planning, and safety and health by-laws, and any State or Commonwealth legislation or regulations that may apply in relation to specific industries or activities such as childcare, residential care and aged care. This chapter provides a general summary of the duties of care under Western Australian legislation, the role of WorkSafe, and matters relating to workers' compensation that may be relevant for incorporated associations.

Key Points

  • Incorporated associations are required to provide a safe and healthy working environment for employees, contractors, volunteers and visitors.
  • There are a range of specific obligations for all parties under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and Regulations (the OSH Laws).
  • WorkSafe is the division of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety that administers the OSH Laws.
  • Inspectors appointed by WorkSafe have broad powers, including entering and inspecting workplaces.
  • The WorkSafe Western Australia Commissioner must be notified of all work related injuries involving fatal and some serious injuries, and certain diseases.
  • Incorporated associations that engage workers must have workers' compensation insurance.
  • Workers’ compensation is regulated by legislation and administered by WorkCover, a State Government statutory authority.
  • Volunteers are not covered by workers' compensation insurance.
  • If a worker is injured while at work, the employer and worker are required to complete and submit prescribed documentation.