The Health & Safety at Work regulations have now been passed and come into effect on 4 April 2016.

For general workplaces these concentrate on the practical steps every Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) has to take.

They must identify hazards that could give rise to a reasonably foreseeable risk to health and safety and put in place a hierarchy of control measures.

If they cannot eliminate the risk then they must minimise it.

The minimisation must be appropriate and effective taking into account the nature of the risk.

  1. Substituting (wholly or partly) the hazard with something of a lesser risk.
  2. Isolating the hazard to prevent contact.
  3. Implementing engineering controls (physical)

If the risk remains they must minimise by administrative controls (method of work).

If the risk remains they must minimise by providing suitable protective equipment.

Control measures must be effective and be installed, set up and correctly used. They must also be reviewed and revised to remain effective.

The PCBU must provide information, supervision, training and instruction to ensure every worker (if practicable) has the knowledge and experience to ensure the worker isn’t likely to affect the health and safety of themselves or others. Alternatively they are adequately supervised by someone with that knowledge and experience, and are adequately trained in the safe use of all equipment and safety gear. The training has to be readily understandable by any person it is provided to.

The PCBU must ensure that the layout of workplace allows for safe entry and exit normally and in an emergency, provides sufficient space to ensure health and safety, that floors and surfaces are safe and the lighting is suitable to carry out work, move within the workplace and for a safe evacuation.

As far as reasonably practicable the PCBU must provide:

  • toilets
  • drinking water
  • hand washing facilities
  • eating and break facilities
  • rest facilities (if not reasonable to leave the premises when unwell).

Some workplaces require facilities:

  • To wash the body
  • Change wet or contaminated clothes
  • Keep non-work clothes clean and dry
  • For sitting (if sitting is reasonable)
  • For sitting during breaks
  • To prevent dampness from a wet floor
  • To control airborne contaminants.

All facilities must be kept in good working order and clean, safe and accessible

The PCBU must ensure adequate first aid equipment in the workplace and an adequate number of workers trained in first aid.

The PCBU must ensure an emergency plan is prepared for the workplace. The emergency procedures must cover an effective response, evacuation, notifying emergency services, medical treatment and effective communication between the emergency coordinator and the rest of the workplace. There must also be testing of emergency procedures. The PCBU must also provide information, training and instruction on implementing the plan (to relevant workers). They must also maintain the plan so it is effective and implement the plan in an emergency.

The PCBU must provide personal protective equipment to workers (unless provided by another PCBU).

Workers can choose to provide their own personal protective equipment (for comfort or convenience) but can give reasonable notice to change to PCBU supplied equipment.

The equipment must minimise the risk, be suitable for the hazard, of a suitable size, fit and reasonably comfortable. It must also be maintained, clean and hygienic, compatible with other equipment and most importantly must be used by the workers. Workers have a duty to use it, not intentionally damage it and to inform the PCBU of any damage or defect. The PCBU must ensure others (eg visitors) also wear or use protective equipment and these others must use or wear the protective equipment provided by PCBU (or supply their own suitable equipment). A maximum fine of $6000 applies to any worker or visitor who fails to use the protective equipment.

Ensure your workplace adopts a culture of safety so that none of your colleagues, clients or visitors are harmed at your place of work.

Alan Knowsley
Health & Safety Lawyer