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Workplace health and safety: General duties

Please note: This article is intended to be brief information only and should not be relied or acted upon as legal advice. You should always seek legal advice tailored to your own individual circumstances.

Under occupational health and safety legislation in each state and territory, employers are generally required to provide and maintain, as far as is practicable, a working environment where their workers are not exposed to health or safety risks (including to both physical or mental health).

This means that an employer must provide a safe workplace and safe system of work (including where an employee is to work from home), which does not, as far as practicable pose a risk to the employee’s physical or mental health.

In addition to general overarching duties, legislation often provides numerous specific duties which are applicable to workplaces (such as obligations in relation to the cleanliness of the workplace, manual handling, lighting, first aid, air temperature, drinking water, ablutions, vehicle management, electrical hazards, signage etc).

Most commonly, workers’ compensation claims will arise in respect of injuries (including mental harm) suffered or developed at work. Most states adopt a no-fault workers’ compensation scheme which means employee does not need to show employer was at fault or breached any duty employee. Such schemes are ordinarily underpinned by mandatory workers’ compensation insurance for any such liability which is required to be held by employers.

Various other discrimination and general protections related claims can arise in respect of mental harm suffered as a result of unlawful bullying, discrimination or harassment.

If you require advice or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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