Occupational safety and health

Associations generally owe an obligation to provide and maintain a safe, healthy working environment. The Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and its associated Regulations (collectively referred to as the OSH Laws) sets out the requirements for providing a safe and healthy work environment. It is important for associations to take note of the rights and duties in the OSH Laws, and comply with the relevant provisions concerning safety requirements.

Duties of employers

In addition to a general duty to provide and maintain a safe and healthy work environment, under the OSH Laws, employers must so far as is practicable:

  • provide and maintain workplaces, equipment and systems of work so that employees are not exposed to hazards;
  • provide necessary information, instruction, training and supervision so employees can perform their work safely;
  • consult and cooperate with safety and health representatives and other employees on occupational safety and health matters;
  • provide employees with adequate personal protective clothing and safety equipment, where required; and
  • immediately notify the WorkSafe Western Australia Commissioner if an employee at a workplace suffers an injury that results in death, or an injury such as a fractured skull, spine or bones, some amputations and any injury that, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, is likely to prevent the employee from being able to work within ten days of when the injury occurred).  Information about this process is available from the Worksafe website.

Under the OSH Laws, associations may also have obligations to people who are not employees such as volunteers and visitors.

Rights and duties of employees and contractors (self-employed people)

Employees and contractors have a responsibility under the OSH Laws to take reasonable care to ensure their own safety and health at work, and to avoid adversely affecting the safety and health of others. Employees must:

  • cooperate with their employer to ensure that the workplace is safe and healthy;
  • comply with safety and health procedures and guidelines provided by their employer;
  • use any personal protective equipment provided by the employer as instructed; and
  • report hazards and injuries to their employer.

Employees also have rights under the OSH Laws including:

  • the ability to request safety and health representatives at the workplace. (Refer to the guidance note, Formal Consultative Processes at the Workplace);
  • the right to receive adequate information, instruction, training and supervision so as to be able to work safely;
  • the right to be consulted about safety and health at the workplace; and
  • the right to refuse to undertake work if they have reasonable grounds to believe that doing so involves a risk of imminent and serious injury or harm to health.