Health and Safety at Work
Health and Safety at Work
Our premier guide to your obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (“the Act”) seeks to ensure that workers and other persons be given the highest level of protection against harm to their health, safety, and welfare from hazards and risks arising from work as is reasonably practicable.
The Act aims to provide for a balanced health and safety framework which protects individuals from harm, provides for workplace representation, encourages unions and employer organisations to take a constructive role in promoting improvements to workplace health and safety practices, promotes compliance and the provision of health and safety advice and education, ensures that the actions of persons exercising health and safety functions are subject to scrutiny and provides a framework for continuous improvement and progressively higher standards of work health and safety. The Act identifies duty holders and prescribes their duties. Assuming your business is a person conducting a business or undertaking (“PCBU”), you will need to consider how these duties apply to your individual business circumstances, industry standards and/or any approved codes of practice. Health and safety risks must be eliminated or minimised so far as is reasonably practicable in the circumstances. PCBUs will need to develop robust policies, procedures and practices that adequately identify any health and safety risks in their business or undertaking through elimination or minimisation processes to manage those risks, with the view of ensuring that all persons potentially affected by the conduct of a business or undertaking are given the highest level of protection in the
circumstances. The Act requires a PCBU to consider who creates the risk and then for them to control that risk. It also encourages PCBUs to concentrate on the greatest risks that could cause death or serious injury first and comprehensively.
The Act also introduces the concept of due diligence. This places a positive duty on those very senior individuals of a PCBU to be actively involved in health and safety matters relevant to the business or undertaking in order to ensure that the PCBU complies with any duty or obligation. Additionally, a PCBU must, as far as reasonably practicable, engage with workers likely to be directly affected by a health and safety matter in accordance with agreed procedures. The Act also requires a PCBU to have practices that provide reasonable opportunities for workers to participate in improving health and safety on an on-going basis. Workplaces with less than 20 workers that are considered to be low risk are not required to (but still could) have participation systems. The Act does not require the establishment of any kind of prescriptive systems or processes in regards to worker engagement and participation, although it does mean that PCBUs must be confident that there are effective practices in place which promote worker engagement and participation on health and Set out below is a generalised approach to your obligations. Where more specific information is provided elsewhere in an A-Z Guide, it will be referred to.
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