In Western Australia, workers have protections through OSH legislation that mandates an employer’s responsibilities and liabilities with regard to workplace health and safety, to ensure as far as practicable that workers are not harmed or injured at work.
Section 19(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (OSH Act) in Western Australia sets out what is known as an employer’s duty of care. This is primarily concerned with achieving workplace health and safety through minimising exposure to hazards, and all employees are entitled to these workplace protections.
Employees in Western Australia therefore have a right to the following workplace health and safety practices and procedures:
- Information about potential hazards and risks from the work;
- Induction, training, instruction and supervision that is tailored to meet the specific needs of individuals;
- Consultation from an employer on workplace health and safety;
- Ongoing maintenance of plant and systems of work;
- Protection against exposure to hazardous substances;
- The provision of adequate and appropriate PPE at no cost.
Further information that an employer is duty bound to provide its employees with includes:
- How to resolve workplace health and safety concerns and issues;
- What action can and should be taken in the case of an emergency;
- What action can be taken if an employee is injured in the workplace;
- The rights workers have to compensation if they are injured at work.
Beyond these, in order to fulfil duty of care obligations, employers in WA are also required to hold elections for workplace safety and health representatives, or set up an appropriate committee, if requested to do so by the workforce. Likewise, employers are required to take action within a reasonable timeframe when a staff member reports a workplace health and safety issue, and then to provide a report detailing their investigations and what action, if any, was taken in response.
Employees in Western Australia also have further clearly defined rights and an entitlement to workplace health and safety when working in specialised industries, or when working with materials, plant or equipment that pose significant hazards and risks. In this scenario, an employer is obliged to provide job specific workplace health and safety induction or training that includes:
- A description of the specific hazards involved in the work and the safety measures that have been put in place;
- The safe work procedures that need to be followed;
- The safe use of all relevant plant and machinery;
- Processes for the safe storage of chemicals and hazardous substances;
- How to move safely in and around the workplace.
In addition, employees also have a right to workplace health and safety protection from what are known as psychosocial hazards. This refers to hazards that are detrimental to mental health, such as workplace bullying, aggression and violence. All employees have a right to work in an environment where their ongoing mental health is not endangered or put at risk by the behaviours and action of either employers or other employees.
It is also important to note that under WA law, casual and labour hire workers have the same rights to workplace health and safety as all other workers.
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