Occupational Health and Safety – What are your legal obligations?

OHSBLC advises employers and individuals regarding their OHS legal obligations and represents those prosecuted by WorkSafe Victoria.  Duties are imposed on all employers, self employed persons, officers, employees, those who manage or control workplaces and “upstream” parties such as the manufacturers and suppliers of plant and equipment to workplaces.  BLC also assists employers to draw appropriate policies and procedures.

OHS law is criminal law.  Prosecutions under the OHS Act 2004 can result in a personal criminal record, substantial fines that are unlikely to be covered by any insurance policy and even potentially jail sentences for very serious offences.

Victoria has not joined in with the harmonised Work Health and Safety legislation passed (or proposed), in various forms, by all other States and Territories and continues to be governed by the OHS Act 2004.  BLC can advise national employers regarding both the operation of the OHS Act 2004 and the obligations on employers in other jurisdictions under the Work Health and Safety legislation.

OHS law imposes extremely onerous responsibilities on all employers and senior executives (“officers”), as befits a law designed to protect the health and welfare of people at work.  BLC can advise all duty holders of their responsibilities and what to do in the event that an accident or near miss occurs at work.  Many workplace risk situations are dealt with by administrative measures such as Improvement Notices.  These can be reviewed where they are not considered to be reasonable.   Where an employer has allowed an unreasonable workplace risk to occur, and a future prosecution is a real possibility, BLC can assist with advising employers on entering into enforceable undertakings with WorkSafe Victoria.

BLC regularly conducts training in OHS obligations for Boards, senior executive groups and groups of employees with particular OHS responsibilities or interests such as supervisors, those who deal with large volunteer groups, OHS representatives or committee members.

Joanna Betteridge has lectured for Monash University’s post graduate program in Occupational Health and Safety law since 2005.