Legislative requirements for schools to provide a safe and healthy workplace for staff and contractors.
Yes, under the provisions of the Occupational Health & Safety Act 2004 (Vic).
You must provide a safe and healthy workplace for your workers and contractors.
Your employer obligations include:
- providing and maintaining safe plant (such as machinery and equipment) and safe systems of work (such as controlling entry to high risk areas, controlling work pace and frequency and providing systems to prevent falls from heights)
- implementing arrangements for the safe use, handling, storage and transport of chemicals (such as dangerous goods and other harmful materials)
- maintaining the workplace in a safe condition (such as ensuring fire exits are not blocked, emergency equipment is serviceable, and the worksite is generally tidy)
- providing workers and contractors with adequate facilities (such as clean toilets, cool and clean drinking water, and hygienic eating areas)
- making sure workers have adequate information, instruction, training and supervision to work in a safe and healthy manner.
You must also:
- adequately monitor your workers’ health (such as providing hearing tests for workers exposed to high noise levels, monitoring fatigue levels for relevant workers)
- keep information and records relevant to your workers’ health and safety (such as records of biological monitoring, asbestos assessments, first aid records and relevant medical information)
- employ or engage people with the necessary qualifications or expertise to advise you on health and safety issues affecting your workers
- consult with employees on matters that may directly affect their health, safety or welfare. Where the employees are represented by a health and safety representative (HSR), the HSR must also be involved in the consultation
- nominate a senior management representative (or yourself) to deal with workers and their health and safety representatives in resolving health and safety issues at the workplace
- provide your workers with information in the appropriate languages about your workplace health and safety arrangements, including the names of those to whom the workers can make an inquiry or complaint.
- When hiring new employees you should inform them, in writing, of the nature of the work and ask if they have any pre-existing injury or illness that may be affected by the work.
- You should also inform them, in writing, that failing to notify or hiding a pre-existing injury or illness which might be affected by the nature of the proposed employment, could result in that injury or illness being ineligible for future compensation claims.
Other health and safety obligations
You must ensure that other people (including students, contractors and visitors) are not endangered by the conduct of your school (for example, by providing protection from falling debris around construction sites, controlling traffic access to your workplace and limiting public access within your workplace).
You have additional specific obligations involving the storage, handling and use of dangerous goods.
You also have obligations to:
- meet particular licensing, registrationhttps://workplaceohs.com.au/legislation/vic-legislation/vic-penalties and certification requirements
- immediately notify the Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA) of certain dangerous incidents
- co-operate with VWA Inspectors
- comply with Inspectors’ Notices and Written Directions issued by VWA Victoria Inspectors.
There are also employer obligations in relation to:
- Workplace Injury Insurance
- Return to work of injured employees
(Note: Details of these last three obligations can be found on the WorkSafe Victoria website.)
Breaches of the Occupational Health & Safety Act 2004 (Vic) can invoke a range of corrective processes and enforcement options, including monetary penalties.
Director, School Services
Ph. 03 9825 7211
- Vic DET: Safety, Health and Wellbeing website
- Victorian WorkCover Authority: OHS in Schools – A Practical Guide for School Leaders
- WorkSafe Victoria Advisory Service
Telephone: 1800 136 089 (Toll Free)
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