Employee Rights And Responsibilities

In today’s workplace, every employer and employee has responsibilities to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of anyone in a workplace, remembering that a workplace is ‘..anywhere work is performed’. It is not just employees who are covered by the legislation.

A workplace must also care about on-site contractors and sub-contractors, visitors and volunteers. When everyone takes safety seriously and work together workplace injury and harm can be reduced.

This information aims to provide clarity around the rights and responsibilities of employees and employers to ensure workplace health and safety (WHS) stays at the forefront of how we work.

What are my OH&S rights as an employee?
All employees have a right to a workplace which, as far as is practicable, is free from hazards that may impact physical or psychological health.
What are my OH&S responsibilities?

All employees have responsibility to:

  • Work in a safe manner, without causing physical or psychological injury to others by actions or omitting to act (i.e. if, when doing nothing, it could reasonably be expected that this may result in injury to self or someone other person/s);
  • Where appropriate, wear all personal protective clothing and use equipment in line with manufacturer’s instructions;
  • Report any workplace injury or OH&S incident, to the relevant supervisor (NB some workplaces require employees to report ‘near misses’ as well), and;
  • Co-operate with others, including the Employer, to help to make the workplace safe and meet legal obligations.
If I see something that is not safe?
Speaking up about safety is a way to improve the working environment for many. If you have concerns about a potential health and safety issue at work, it is best to speak up. It may just save someone, or yourself, from an injury.
Who are the reporting authorities?

Specific legislation outlines important rules and requirements for all Victorian based employers and their employees as well as Health and Safety Committees/Representatives as is the Occupational Health and Safety Act (2004). Each state has their own Act which in turn are supported by specific regulations for higher risk activities (e.g. asbestos removal). If your Employer works across different States you may need to check the Act that relates to where the workplace or injury occurred.

The government agency in Victoria responsible for ensuring compliance is Worksafe Victoria. www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/

Advisory Service Contact Details: 1800 136 089 (8.30 – 5.00pm Mon – Friday) or 24/7 Emergency Contact Details: 13 23 60

The WorkSafe Victoria website has information on a range of important health and safety issues including:

While WH&S can be a complex matter, it is important to know where to go for basic information. It is possible that matters may be referred to other agencies and organisations due to the specialist nature of the work they do.

What are my employers OH&S responsibilities?

All Employers have a general ‘duty of care’ to provide a safe workplace free from hazards that may impact on physical or psychological wellbeing of those at the workplace.

Employers have specific responsibilities including:

  • Regularly raise the topic of safety with employees and provide employees and contractors with relevant WH&S information and guidance;
  • Assess risks and take preventative action;
  • Report workplace injuries with the relevant authority, and;
  • Take a proactive approach to achieving a safe workplace.
Where do I obtain workplace policies?
Your supervisor is a great place to start. You may request a copy of these and use as a reference when you have a question or query. Note they are often different at each workplace. Workplace policies are important, and all policies relating to employment at your workplace are expected to meet or exceed the minimum standards set down in legislation (e.g. Workplace Health and Safety). The legislation will apply where policies are inconsistent.