Office safety - what is the law
The OSH Act and regulations place certain duties on employers, employees, self-employed people, manufacturers, designers, importers and suppliers and must be complied with. Duties include:
- Not exposing workers to hazards
- Providing information, instruction and training
- Conducting risk assessments
- Investigating hazards or injuries that have been reported to employers by employees
- Notifying WorkSafe of reportable injuries
- Providing safe workplaces
- Designing and constructing safe machinery, equipment and tools
Do not expose workers to hazards
Hazards from performing manual tasks should be controlled so far as is practicable so that workers are not exposed to hazards. There are general duties and responsibilities placed upon employers, workers and contractors under WA legislation. Refer to Sections 19, 20 and 23D, 23E, 23F of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.
Provide information, instruction and training
Employers are required to provide information (eg. labelling high risk loads), instruction, training (eg. risk management of manual tasks) and supervision to their employees so that they are not exposed to manual task hazards. Refer to Section 19(1)(b) Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.
Conduct risk assessments
The three-step risk management process of hazard identification, risk assessment and risk control should be applied to hazards from performing manual tasks, including manual handing. Refer to Regulation 3.1 and Regulation 3.4 of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996.
Investigate hazards or injuries that have been reported to employers by employees
Injuries and hazards that have been reported in relation to performing manual tasks or reported musculoskeletal disorders should be investigated. The Act requires employers to investigate matters reported to them by employees, determine the action to be taken (if any), and notify the employee who made the report of the action to be taken. Refer to Section 23K of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.
Notify WorkSafe of reportable injuries
Certain injuries and illnesses should be reported to WorkSafe, including injuries that are likely to prevent the employee from being able to work within 10 days of the injury and certain types of fractures. Refer to Section 23I of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and Regulation 2.4 of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996.
Provide safe workplaces
Those that have control of workplaces have a duty to take measures so far as is practicable so that people (including non-employees) are not exposed to hazards when they enter, exit or are in that workplace. Refer to Section 22 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.
Design and construct safe machinery, equipment and tools
Plant (includes machinery, equipment, appliance, implement, tool and any component) used in workplaces should be designed and constructed so that those who install, maintain or use them are not exposed to hazards. The duties are applicable to designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers- Refer to Section 23 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.
The code of practice for Manual tasks
Codes of practice apply to all workplaces in Western Australia covered by the OSH Act. The code provides practical guidelines on acceptable ways of achieving compliance with Act and regs.
The Manual tasks code provides general guidance for employers and workers on the identification, assessment and control of risks associated with performing manual tasks at work.
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