What protections are in place for workers, can your employment be terminated if you report a health and safety issue or refuse to work because you believe it's unsafe to do so, and what you can do if your business is not involving workers in health and safety.
HSWA protects your involvement in work health and safety when:
- raising an issue or concern about health and safety
- ceasing work because you believe it is unsafe or unhealthy
- taking part in resolving a health and safety issue
- taking action to seek compliance
- acting as a Health and Safety Representative (HSR), member of a Health and Safety Committee (HSC), or other role under the Act
- using your lawful powers as an HSR or member of an HSC, such as directing a worker to cease unsafe work.
No. A person or a business must not discriminate or take other negative steps against you because of your involvement in work health and safety. It's against the law to do so.
The short answer is everyone is responsible for work health and safety, however workers have different responsibilities to those of the business.
Under the new law, all workers are obliged to:
- take reasonable care of their own health and safety
- take reasonable care that what they do or don’t do doesn’t adversely affect the health and safety of others
- cooperate with any reasonable policies or procedures the business or undertaking has in place on how to work in a safe and healthy way, and
- comply with any reasonable instruction given by the business or undertaking so that they can comply with HSWA and the regulations.
Businesses have a legal duty to engage with workers, so far as is reasonably practicable.
Examples of ways that you as a worker can engage include:
- talking to your HSR, so they can speak on your behalf (if the business has one)
- asking a workmate to raise an issue for you
- talking about issues at your team meeting
- contacting your union. Union delegates can act as advocates for and negotiators about work health and safety.
Workers can also discuss their work health and safety concerns confidentially with WorkSafe. Find out how you can contact WorkSafe.
The Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) does not distinguish between workers, whether they have a disability or not.
What is clear, however, is that businesses must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their workers and that other people are not put at risk by its work.
HSWA must not be used as a means to discriminate against workers with disabilities.