Work health and safety effects every person in a business and can even affect some people outside of the business. In Queensland, there are a range of laws in place to protect against injury or illness. So, who is ultimately responsible for health and safety in the workplace?
What is duty of care in the workplace?
Both employers and employees have a duty of care in the workplace to keep everyone safe and healthy. Some examples of meeting your duty of care include provision and proper use of protective equipment, having a workers compensation policy in place, and providing and complying with health and safety instruction. You can find a more detailed breakdown of duty of care below.
Business owners and employers
All employers or business owners have a duty of care that is outlined in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. What some people don’t realise is that this also includes you if you’re self-employed. That means you’re responsible, by law, for the health and safety of both yourself and anyone who visits your workplace.
The key criteria for meeting your duty of care include:
- Providing a safe workplace
- Ensuring safe use and storage of machinery, structures and substances
- Keeping facilities properly maintained
- Giving workers the right training, instructions, or supervision to keep them safe
- Keeping an eye on worker health and conditions in the workplace
- Keeping an injury register
- Having a workers compensation policy and return to work plan
It’s not all on the business owner or employer to maintain workplace health and safety. As a worker, you also have health and safety obligations. If you fail to meet these, you may face penalties or prosecution as well as not being eligible for a workers compensation claim if you are injured or fall ill.
As a worker, your workplace health and safety obligations include:
- Complying with health and safety instructions
- Using personal protective equipment (PPE) provided by your employer (they should also provide clear instructions on how to use this)
- Not interfering with or misusing anything provided for work health and safety
- Not wilfully putting others at risk
- Not wilfully injuring yourself
How does this affect my workers compensation claim?
Knowing who is responsible for health and safety in the workplace may help you assess whether your claim has a good chance of success. For example, if your injury was the result of not using provided protective equipment, your claim is unlikely to be successful. However, if your employer hasn’t provided the appropriate protective gear, you may have a strong claim.
How is workplace health and safety monitored?
For Queensland businesses, work health and safety is monitored by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ). They enforce the laws by completing inspections and investigations that ensure employers and other people in the business are meeting their obligations. WHSQ inspectors also help employers to develop better work practices or improve their existing processes.
How do I find out if I can claim compensation for a workplace injury or illness?
If you are looking to file a claim against your employer due to injury or illness, we’re here to answer any questions you might have. Get in touch for a chat about your situation and whether you’re eligible for a claim.