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Service Agreement Information Kit for Funded Organisations

4.7 Occupational health and safety

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to organisations funded by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Policy purpose

To ensure organisations funded by the department comply with all required Victorian safety laws and applicable safety regulations.

Legislation and /or regulation

Organisation requirements

  • Maintain a safe workplace
  • Eliminate or minimise workplace hazards and risks associated with all hazards and risks
  • Provide and maintain safe systems of work
  • Provide adequate facilities for the welfare of employees
  • Monitor the health of employees and conditions of the working environment
  • Provide information, instruction, training and supervision to enable work to be performed safely 

An organisation entering into a Service Agreement must be aware of and able to provide an appropriate documented system to demonstrate compliance with its occupational health and safety obligations as employers under all relevant State and Federal law, including the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (the Act). Of particular note are sections 21(1), 21(2), 21(3), 22 and 23 of the Act.

Key to providing a safe work place is applying the principles of the Act. These are:

  1. The importance of health and safety requires that employees, other persons at work and members of the public be given the highest level of protection against risks to their health and safety that is reasonably practicable in the circumstances.
  2. Persons who control or manage matters that give rise or may give rise to risks to health or safety are responsible for eliminating or reducing those risks so far as is reasonably practicable.
  3. Employers and self-employed persons should be proactive, and take all reasonably practicable measures to ensure health and safety at workplaces and in the conduct of undertakings.
  4. Employers and employees should exchange information and ideas about risks to health and safety and measures that can be taken to eliminate or reduce those risks.
  5. Employees are entitled, and should be encouraged, to be represented in relation to health and safety issues.

Schedule 1 of the service agreement sets out the requirements of an organisation to comply with all State and Federal law relevant to its operation.

Information sheet

The department requires that all organisations have systems in place to manage their obligations and duty of care under the Act. Any organisational health and safety management system must be auditable to ensure compliance with the Act.

The following items list specific references regarding duties under the Act: 

Employer obligations (Sections 21, 22 and 23 Duties of Employers to Employees)

  • Section 21 covers the duties of employers toward their employees.
  • Section 21 (1) requires an employer to provide and maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable for employees, a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.
  • Section 21 (2) sets out specific duties as examples of what is necessary to comply with the general duty.
  • Section 21 (3) duties of employers are to employees including independent contractors and their employees. These duties are limited to matters over which the employer has, or should have, control, or would have had control but for any agreement between the employer and the independent contractor to the contrary.
  • Section 22 describes duties of employers to monitor health and conditions.
  • Section 23 an employer must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons other than employees of the employer are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the conduct of the undertaking of the employer.

Employee obligations (Section 25)

Employee obligations under the Act are covered in section 25. This requires that:

  • An employee must take reasonable care for his or her own health and safety and for the health and safety of anyone else who may be affected by his or her acts or omissions at the workplace, and to cooperate with his or her employer with respect to any action taken by the employer to comply with any requirements imposed by or under this Act. In addition, employees must not willfully or recklessly interfere with or misuse safety equipment that is provided. They must not willfully put at risk the health and safety of others.

Consultation (Part 4: Sections 35 (1 and 2) and 36 (1,2 and 3))

The Act clearly defines the duty of employers have to consult with health and safety representatives and/or staff on a range of OHS issues, including making decisions about risk controls, adequacy of facilities and any changes to the workplace, plant or conduct of work that may directly impact on the safety or health of employees.

Issue resolution (Section 73)

Section 73 of the Act requires the employer or their representative, and the employees affected by the issue, and/or a designated work group in relation to which the issue has arisen, to work to resolve the health and safety issues at that workplace.

The 'Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007' Part – 2.2 Issue Resolution Procedures, provides detail on parties to the resolution process, procedures for reporting issues and procedures for resolving issues.

A health and safety issue may include any:

  • item in the general duties section of the Act
  • hazard or potential hazard, and
  • procedural issue relating to health and safety which does not necessarily imply the existence of a health and safety dispute. Issues can be resolved through the prescribed procedure set out in the OHS Regulations Part 2.2, or through an agreed procedure, which provides a step-by-step process to enable the speedy and effective resolution of health and safety issues.

Manual handling

The 'Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007' Part 3.1 Manual Handling emphasise the identification, assessment, control and review of manual handling risks. All organisations should address their manual handling issues by (as a minimum) ensuring compliance to this part of the regulations.

Manual handling covers a wide range of activities including lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, throwing and carrying. It includes repetitive tasks such as packing, typing, assembling, cleaning and sorting, using hand-tools, and operating machinery and equipment.

Effective occupational health and safety management

An effective health and safety program will include managing key sector risks such as manual handling, occupational assault and stress. As a minimum, programs should contain:

  • specifically designated personnel to be responsible for occupational health and safety functions and activities
  • documented occupational health and safety policies and procedures, including safe work procedures and emergency procedures
  • appropriate training and information in health and safety for all staff
  • an established incident reporting and investigation process, including hazard identification and control mechanisms
  • appropriate consultative procedures, and
  • monitoring and review processes.

When developing an occupational health and safety program, refer to AS4801 and AS4804.

Duties relating to incidents - notification of incidents to WorkSafe Victoria (sections 37, 38 and 39)

Part 5 of the Act refers to the notification of incidents:

  • Section 37 defines the incidents to which part 5 applies
  • Section 38 explains the requirements of the 'Duty to notify', and
  • Section 39 describes the requirement to preserve the site.

Note: Relevant incident(s) must be reported to WorkSafe Victoria by calling 132 360, immediately after becoming aware of the incident. Written notification must be provided to WorkSafe Victoria within 48 hours.

A guide to the Act and advice - WorkSafe Victoria

A Guide to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 can be obtained from the local WorkSafe Victoria office. WorkSafe Victoria also provides advice on all workplace health and safety issues. The contact telephone number is (03) 9641 1444. Toll free 1800 136 089.

WorkSafe Victoria website: www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/home (external link, opens in a new window)

Copies of Victorian Acts and Regulations can be purchased from Information Victoria on 1300 366 356.

For further information

Geoff Reany, Manager, OHS Operational Support
Telephone: (03) 9096 7575
Email:geoff.reany@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Department of Education and Training

An organisation entering into a Service Agreement must be aware of and able to provide an appropriate documented system to demonstrate compliance with its occupational health and safety obligations under all relevant State and Federal law, including the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (the Act) and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007 (OHS Regulations). Particularly relevant sections of the Act are 21(1), 21(2), 21(3), 22, 23, 26 and 32.

The principles of the Act are designed to provide a safe work place. These principles are as follows.

  • Employees, other persons at work and members of the public are given the highest level of protection against risks to their health and safety that is reasonably practicable in the circumstances.
  • Persons who control or manage matters that give rise or may give rise to risks to health or safety are responsible for eliminating or reducing those risks so far as is reasonably practicable.
  • Employers and self-employed persons should be proactive, and take all reasonably practicable measures to ensure health and safety at workplaces and in the conduct of undertakings.
  • Employers and employees should exchange information and ideas about risks to health and safety and measures that can be taken to eliminate or reduce those risks.
  • Employees are entitled, and should be encouraged, to be represented in relation to health and safety issues.

Schedule 1 of the Service Agreement sets out the requirements of an organisation to comply with all State and Federal law relevant to its operation.

Health and Safety Management System

The Department of Education and Training (DET) requires that all organisations have systems in place to manage their obligations and duty of care under the Act. Any organisational health and safety management system must be auditable to ensure compliance with the Act.

The following items list specific references regarding duties under the Act:

Employer obligations (Sections 21, 22 and 23 Duties of Employers to Employees)

  • Section 21 covers the duties of employers toward their employees.
  • Section 21 (1) requires an employer to provide and maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable for employees, a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.
  • Section 21 (2) sets out specific duties as examples of what is necessary to comply with the general duty.
  • Section 21 (3) duties of employers are to employees including independent contractors and their employees. These duties are limited to matters over which the employer has, or should have, control, or would have had control but for any agreement between the employer and the independent contractor to the contrary.
  • Section 22 describes duties of employers to monitor health and conditions.
  • Section 23 an employer must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons other than employees of the employer are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the conduct of the undertaking of the employer.

Employee obligations (Section 25)

Employees have obligations under the Act which requires that employees must:
  • take reasonable care for his or her own health and safety;
  • take reasonable care for the health and safety of anyone else who may be affected by his or her acts or omissions at the workplace;
  • cooperate with his or her employer with respect to any action taken by the employer to comply with any requirements imposed by or under this Act; and
  • not wilfully or recklessly interfere with or misuse safety equipment that is provided.

Duties of those who manage or control workplaces (Section 26)

The Act places direct duties on a person who, to any extent, has the management or control of a workplace, whether or not they are the owner. The workplace manager must ensure the workplace is safe and the means of entering and leaving it are safe and without risks to health.

The duties of a person under this section apply only in relation to matters over which the person has management or control.

Duty not to recklessly endanger persons at work (Section 32)

All persons have a duty not to recklessly engage in conduct that places, or may place, another person in the workplace in danger of serious injury.

Consultation (Part 4: Sections 35 (1 and 2) and 36 (1, 2 and 3))

The Act clearly defines the duty of employers to consult with health and safety representatives and/or staff on a range of OHS issues, including making decisions about risk controls, adequacy of facilities and any changes to the workplace, plant or conduct of work that may directly impact on the safety or health of employees.

Issue resolution (Section 73)

The Act requires the employer, or the employer’s representative, to work with employees resolve the health and safety issues arising in the workplace.  Issue resolution should be in accordance with an agreed procedure, or if there is no such procedure, use of the relevant procedure prescribed in the OHS Regulations. The resolution procedure must include employees affected by the issue, and/or a designated work group in relation to which the issue has arisen.

For issue resolution, the employer’s representative must:

  • have an appropriate level of seniority;
  • be sufficiently competent; and
  • not be a health and safety representative.

Part 2.2 of the OHS Regulations provides detail on the issues resolution process.

A health and safety issue may include any:

  • item in the general duties section of the Act;
  • hazard or potential hazard; or
  • procedural issue relating to health and safety which does not necessarily imply the existence of a health and safety dispute. Issues can be resolved through the prescribed procedure set out in the OHS Regulations Part 2.2, or through an agreed procedure, which provides a step-by-step process to enable the speedy and effective resolution of health and safety issues.

Manual handling

Part 3.1 (Manual Handling) of the OHS Regulations emphasise the identification, assessment, control and review of manual handling risks. All organisations should address their manual handling issues by (as a minimum) ensuring compliance to this part of the regulations.

Manual handling covers a wide range of activities including lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, throwing and carrying. Hazardous manual handling involves tasks that have:

  • repetitive or sustained application of force, awkward postures or movements;
  • tasks that are difficult due to the degree of force applied (high force);
  • exposure to sustained vibration;
  • manual handling of live people or animals; or
  • manual handling of unstable loads that are difficult to grasp or hold.

Potentially hazardous manual handling takes may include packing, typing, assembling, cleaning, sorting, using hand-tools, operating machinery and equipment, or manual handling of persons.

Other OHS Regulation requirements

An organisation entering into a service agreement must identify and address other relevant requirements of the OHS Regulations pertaining to their operations and undertakings such as Noise (Part 3.2), Prevention of Falls (Part 3.3), Plant (Part 3.5), Hazardous Substances and Materials (Part 4.1) and Asbestos (Part 4.3).

Effective occupational health and safety management

An effective health and safety program will include managing both physical and psychological key sector risks such as manual handling, occupational violence and stress. As a minimum, programs should contain:

  • specifically designated personnel to be responsible for occupational health and safety functions and activities;
  • documented occupational health and safety policies and procedures, including safe work procedures and emergency procedures;
  • appropriate training and information in health and safety for all staff;
  • an established incident reporting and investigation process;
  • hazard identification and risk control mechanisms, with reference to the hierarchy of control to eliminate or minimise risks as close to the source as reasonably practicable;
  • appropriate consultative and issue resolution procedures; and
  • monitoring and review processes.

When developing an occupational health and safety program, refer to relevant Australian Standards AS/NZS4801 and AS/NZS4804

Duties relating to incidents - notification of incidents to WorkSafe Victoria (sections 37, 38 and 39)

Part 5 of the Act refers to the notification of incidents:

  • Section 37 defines the incidents to which part 5 applies.
  • Section 38 explains the requirements of the 'Duty to notify'.
  • Section 39 describes the requirement to preserve the site.

Note: Relevant incident(s) must be reported to WorkSafe Victoria by calling 132 360, immediately after becoming aware of the incident. Written notification must be provided to WorkSafe Victoria within 48 hours.

A guide to the Act and advice - WorkSafe Victoria

A Guide to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 can be obtained from the local WorkSafe Victoria office. WorkSafe Victoria also provides advice on all workplace health and safety issues. The contact telephone number is (03) 9641 1444. Toll free 1800 136 089.

WorkSafe Victoria website: http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/

Copies of Victorian Acts and Regulations can be purchased from Information Victoria on 1300 366 356, or accessed online for free by going to http://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/ and selecting ‘Victorian Law Today’.

For further information

Tim Wall, Manager, Employee Safety and Wellbeing Branch, People Division, People and Executive Services Group
Telephone: (03) 9637 2460
Email: wall.timothy.c@edumail.vic.gov.au