It's the responsibility of all workers to provide a healthy and safe workplace – and you're entitled to have a healthy and safe environment to work in. What are your WHS rights and what you need to know and do to ensure your health and safety at work are prioritised?
Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) involves the assessment and minimising of risks that may impact the health, safety or welfare of those in your workplace. This may include the health and safety of customers, your workmates, visitors to site, contractors, volunteers and even suppliers. Your employer, as a business owner, is required by law to manage WHS by:
Before 2012, WHS laws were known as Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) laws. These laws differed across Australian states and territories. To make the laws more consistent across Australia, in 2012 most state and territory governments agreed to develop model laws (the WHS Act and Regulations) on which they could base their health and safety laws. The wording ‘Occupational Health and Safety’ has gradually been phased out.
Creating a safe work environment is a legal requirement and is critical to the long-term success of your employer's business. It can:
As a business owner, your employer has a legal responsibility to implement health and safety practices. They must ensure their business doesn’t create health and safety problems for their employees, contractors, volunteers, visitors, customers or the public.
Knowing and understanding WHS laws and how they apply to your employer will help you support your employer and your fellow employees in your place of work.
Under Australian WHS legislation your employer is legally obliged to:
Though it may be perceived as costly for employers to implement safe practices and install safety equipment, the impact of not taking action can be severe. If they fail to comply with WHS requirements they can be prosecuted and fined.
Being an employee requires you to be aware of your work health and safety responsibilities – both to yourself and your workmates. You must:
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