Workplace safety is a key issue for employers and employees. Everyone has a responsibility to ensure the safety of themselves and others affected by their work activities in the workplace.
Work health and safety law in Australia has three sources:
- common law duty of care
- criminal law and
- Australian work health and safety legislation.
Work health and safety law requires employers, employees, contractors and the self employed to protect their own and other people's health and safety.
Employers are also required to provide you with access to information about reasonable adjustments where needed, and training for any equipment required for reasonable adjustments:
As an employee, you have responsibilities under these laws. You must take care of yourself and others and cooperate with your employer in health and safety matters. This applies to all workers, whether they have a disability or not.
When you are at work you must:
- act responsibly
- perform your work according to the safety standards applied and follow the directions given by your employer
- take reasonable care to protect the health and safety of yourself, your co-workers and others
- work and behave in ways which are safe and do not endanger the health and safety of anyone in the workplace.
If you don’t do these things, you could be disciplined by your employer under your conditions of employment. You could be prosecuted under the work health and safety laws in your state or territory.
In addition, under the Disability Discrimination Act (1992) your ability to work safely is an inherent requirement (i.e. an essential requirement) of any job (see Related Links). If your disability could reasonably be seen to cause a health and safety risk at work, failing to disclose that risk could be a breach of your obligations under health and safety legislation.
Safe Work Australia
Safe Work Australia is responsible for improving work health and safety and workers' compensation arrangement across Australia. It is funded by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments. It works with governments, unions and industry to reduce death, injury and disease in the workplace.
State and territory work health and safety authorities
If you want to find out more about your rights and responsibilities or you want to ask for help, contact the workplace safety authority in your state or territory (note that these links will take you to an external site in a new window):
Australian Capital Territory—WorkSafe ACT
New South Wales—WorkCover NSW
Northern Territory—NT WorkSafe
Queensland—Workplace Health and Safety
South Australia—WorkCover SA
Tasmania—Workplace Standards Tasmania
Western Australia—WorkSafe Western Australia