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Key terms and concepts

Causes of workplace injury include inadequate training, lack of appreciation of the seriousness of health and safety issues (trying to take short cuts), an attitude of “she’ll be right mate”, not wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and coercion by employers and supervisors of young people to perform tasks in a dangerous manner. Bullying by work colleagues, both physical and mental is also a cause of workplace injury as the victim may be mentally affected or otherwise distracted from the task at hand, causing a physical injury.

Codes of practice: Provide practical guidance on how to meet the standards set out in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.

Consultation is the sharing of relevant information about occupational health, safety and welfare with employees. Employees are to be given the opportunity to express their views and to contribute in a timely fashion to the resolution of occupational health, safety and welfare issues at their place of work. The views of employees must be valued and taken into account by the employer.

Designated/appropriate personnel are the correct people to contact in the case of an emergency, accident, fire or reporting of a risk. They are designated safety officers appointed by the company, who have undertaken specific response training. They may also be supervisors, managers or other senior personnel.

Emergency and evacuation procedures are best-practice guidelines for reacting to an emergency so that those at risk respond in a prompt, orderly and appropriate way.
An emergency may develop, for example, due to a chemical leak or spill, a fire, a flood, compromised electrical safety or even a trench collapse. Organisations are required to have a response procedure in place and personnel responsible to oversee an evacuation process. Key personnel could include a safety officer, site supervisor or an elected person from the workforce.
In an emergency these personnel wear bright helmets and vests so as to be easily identified. Their duty is to ensure the area is clear and all persons are accounted for.

Emergency situations are events that will produce or exacerbate injury to people and/or damage to property unless immediate intervention occurs.

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Employer and employee responsibilities
Employers must ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees. That duty extends (without limitation) to the following:

Employers must also ensure that people other than their employees are not exposed to risks to their health or safety while they are at the employers’ place of work.

Employees must, while at work:

Legislation, regulation and codes of practice: Legislation is the rules passed by government that companies and people must abide by. Regulations are the means (how) to police the legislation while the codes of practice are the “best practice” industry guidelines agreed to by unions, employers and government to perform tasks.

Monitoring and reporting: The process of monitoring a system and reporting on its effectiveness.

Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 (NSW): From 1 January 2012, new nationally harmonised work health and safety legislation commences in New South Wales.  The new legislation will replace the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 and Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001.

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OHS induction training: Any person working in the construction industry must complete a WorkCover approved industry induction training (external website)course. This induction course ensures workers are aware of health and safety issues specific to the construction industry. Before a person is allowed to enter a designated construction site, they must attend a site specific induction course. This ensures all workers or visitors are aware of local procedures and hazards on site.

An HS representative/committee (external website) represents the employees of a workgroup. An H&S committee brings employees and management together in a non-adversarial, cooperative effort to promote WH&S within the entire workplace. The committee’s role is to take a proactive approach in assisting the PCBU (employer) to develop and implement the best possible WH&S policies, plans and procedures for eliminating or minimising occupational risks that are inbuilt into the processes of their business.

Participation is being involved in consultation on matters of WH&S. Employers must ensure participants of H&S committees have the necessary skills and expertise to be effective in consultative reviews and dialogue. If necessary, training must be provided to ensure that participants understand WH&S concepts.

Plant and equipment guards are mechanical devices (external website) fitted to an item of plant or equipment to ensure the protection of the operator. They act as a physical barrier between the operator’s body and dangerous parts of a machine and stop parts of the body being placed in a dangerous or hazardous position, eg a perspex cover in front of a grinding wheel on a pedestal grinder. They also prevent off cuts or sparks being thrown into the eyes or other parts of the body. Plant and equipment guards do not replace the need for personal protective equipment.

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Public liability refers to the liability for accidental bodily injury to third parties or damage to their property. Public liability insurance is designed to cover businesses if a member of the public sues them for injury or damage caused by the business’ activities. For example, if a manufacturer is showing customers around a factory and one of these customers slips over on some oil on the floor, he or she may sue the manufacturer for injuries caused by the accident. Public liability insurance would cover any costs incurred by the manufacturer as a result of the lawsuit.

Risk assessment is the judgement (external website) as to the likelihood of a process, task, machinery, substance or other activity of a business causing harm.

Risk control measures are the processes which underpin health and safety management. They involve systematically identifying hazards, assessing and controlling risks (external website), and reviewing activities to make sure they are conducted in a way which controls risks.

Safe work practices provide practical guidance to businesses on how to fulfil their duty to provide a safe and healthy workplace.

Safety/lockout tagging:  Lockout, isolation and tagging procedures (external website)in a work place are designed to protect people and property from risks arising from machinery or equipment which has been taken “out of service” for repair, maintenance, or inspection. Often the significant hazard is risk of electrocution, however, where a physical hazard exists, tags and mechanical lockout devices are also used, for example where there is a risk of being crushed in an iron ore crushing plant.

Safety signs and symbols are designed to communicate information (external website) on hazards, the need for PPE and the location of safety equipment, and to give guidance in an emergency. The symbols are designed to ensure people are able to understand signs regardless of their level of literacy.

Scope of responsibility/level of authority refers to the level of responsibility (external website) each person or organisation has in the workplace. The scope of responsibility varies according to the position held. 

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Selection, use, maintenance and storage of personal protective equipment (PPE) refers to choosing the correct PPE (external website) for a situation, using it in the appropriate manner and ensuring that it is in working order and has been stored in the correct manner. PPE is only of value where these steps have all been correctly followed.

Sources of information include but are not limited to newspapers, magazines, texts or electronic forms. In the construction industry Material Safety Data Sheets, the WorkCover website, WorkCover paper resources and manufacturers’ brochures, videos and DVDs are all valuable sources of information.

Standard operating procedures are detailed written instructions designed to achieve uniformity in the performance of a specific function, eg manual handling processes or detailed process on how to use a piece of machinery efficiently and safely.

WorkCover NSW is a statutory authority within the portfolio of the NSW Minister for Commerce. Its primary objective is to work in partnership with the NSW community to achieve safe workplaces, effective return to work and security for injured workers.

Worker’s compensation provides valuable protection to workers and their employers in the event of a workplace-related injury or disease. Through worker’s compensation, injured workers can receive weekly payments to cover loss of earning capacity, payment of medical expenses and vocational rehabilitation expenses, where necessary, to assist them return to work.

The Worker’s Compensation Commission (external website) resolves workers’ compensation disputes. Workers and employers are encouraged to discuss ways of resolving their disputes at all stages of the process.

A Workplace injury is an injury sustained at work or travelling to or from work. An injury may be physical, mental, biological or chemical.

Work health and safety (WH&S) (external website): ensures a safe environment for employees, contractors, customers and visitors to a company’s facilities through procedures and safe work practices. WH&S also encourages a healthy lifestyle and promotes good health and wellbeing among the people that the company affects.

Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) is legislation designed to reduce the number of injuries in the workplace by imposing responsibilities on individuals and corporations. It describes the general requirements necessary to ensure a safe and healthy workplace. The Act (external website) gives power to enforce legislation while the Regulation is a tool to enforce. In other words, the Act is what is to be enforced and the Regulation is how it is to be enforced.

Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (external website) (NSW) aim to support the Work Health and Safety Act 2000 in achieving reductions in the incidence of workplace injuries and disease. It replaces all regulations made under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000.

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