Business owners have responsibilities regarding health and safety in the workplace

As a business owner you must meet the Work Health and Safety requirements set out in the acts, regulations and codes of practice in your state or you may face penalties if you don't meet them.

The Acts outline legal responsibilities and duties of an employer. These are referred to as WHS - Workplace Health and Safety or OHS - Occupational Health and Safety Acts.

Courts decide whether OHS laws have been met. They consider whether you have followed the correct approved codes of practice.

As a business owner you have a range of responsibilities under these regulations. The impacts of a failure under these regulations can have a significant influence upon the corporation, individuals and officers. In addition to protecting the safety of your workers you must also ensure that other people such as drivers, visitors and the general public are not exposed to risks as a result of your business.

In most serious cases - breach of the duty involving recklessness and serious harm (fatality or serious injury) to a person or a risk of such harm can impact a company by being fined $3 million, an Individual/officer conducting business = $600,000 or imprisonment up to 5 years. Workers and other persons = $300,000 or imprisonment up to 5 years. Even a company breach of the duty that does not involve high risk of serious harm can be fined $500,000, an Individual/officer conducting business = $100,000 and workers and other persons = $50,000.

Did you know that workers in warehousing have a higher than average chance of being seriously injured at work? Workplace inspectors visit 40,000 workplace sites each year.

Workplace inspector's focus on industry sectors and organisations that have a high number of injuries, specific hazards that pose serious risk or often cause injury. They also attend a workplace in response to reports of unsafe working conditions or after reportable incidents - a workplace fatality, serious injury, dangerous incident or emergency.

A steel storage racking collapse can cause the death of a worker(s) and significant disruption to business operations. The right control measures such as an annual independent racking inspection program that provides reporting to all levels of the business and allows for overall compliance contributes to a safe working environment.


The following is an excerpt from the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 - Victoria which sets out the key principles, duties and rights in relation to workplace health and safety. This provides an example of the obligations a business owner has. Check the mandatory legislation in your applicable state.

The act states:


(1) The objects of this Act are -
(a) to secure the health, safety and welfare of employees and other persons at work; and
(b) to eliminate, at the source, risks to the health, safety or welfare of employees and other persons at work; and
(c) to ensure that the health and safety of members of the public is not placed at risk by the conduct of undertakings by employers and self-employed persons; and

Duties of employers to employees
(1) An employer must, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain for employees of the employer a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.
(a) provide or maintain plant or systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health;

Racking structures fall under Regulations under the Act - plant regulations.

(b) make arrangements for ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, safety and the absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling, storage or transport of plant or substances;
(c) maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable, each workplace under the employer's management and control in a condition that is safe and without risks to health;

Below is a list of laws applicable in each state in Australia.

VICTORIA
ACT: Occupational Health & Safety Act 2004
REGULATION: Occupational Health & Safety Regulations 2007
CODES: VIC Compliance Codes
REGULATOR: Worksafe VIC -They're responsible for inspecting workplaces, providing advice and help, and handing out notices and penalties where necessary.

NSW
ACT: Work Health & Safety Act 2011
REGULATION: Work Health & Safety Regulation 2011
CODES: NSW Code of Practice
REGULATOR: Safework NSW

QUEENSLAND
ACT: Work Health & Safety Act 2011
REGULATION: Work Health & Safety Regulation 2011
CODES: QLD Code of Practice
REGULATOR: Workplace Health & Safety QLD

SOUTH AUSTRALIA
ACT: Work Health & Safety Act 2012
REGULATION: Work Health & Safety Regulation 2012
CODES: SA Code of Practice
REGULATOR: Safework SA

WESTERN AUSTRALIA
ACT: Occupational Health & Safety Act 1984
REGULATION: Occupational Health & Safety Regulations 1996
CODES: WA Code of Practice
REGULATOR: Worksafe WA

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY
ACT: Work Health & Safety Act 2011
REGULATION: Work Health & Safety Regulation 2011
CODES: ACT Codes of Practice
REGULATOR: Worksafe ACT

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Fatalities

 

Red Items

 

Orange Items

 

Green Items

 

Sites Inspected by IRIA

Damage Classification & Risk Management

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