Workplace Health and Safety

Safety in the workplace is a legal right in Australia and is primarily the responsibility of the employer. In every state, every person with any form of working visa, permanent residency or citizenship has the right to a safe and healthy workplace, no matter what kind of work they’re doing.

The laws surrounding workplace health and safety (WHS) ensure that people engaged in work are kept safe, healthy and well at all times. If you have been injured due to a breach of WHS standards, you may be eligible for compensation.

What does Workplace Health and Safety mean?

The principal WHS law in Australia is the Commonwealth’s Work Health and Safety Act 2011, which clarifies that ‘health’ includes both the physical and the psychological wellbeing of workers. That means that injuries of either type, such as a sprained ankle caused by an unsafe puddle (physical), or stress-related PTSD caused by workplace bullying (psychological), are breaches of workplace health and safety.

In different types of workplace, across different types of work, and in different states and territories, the governing laws and regulations will specify different ways to maintain healthy and safe workplaces. However, the obligation is always on the employer to ensure that conditions meet the relevant standards and specifications, that safe processes are followed, and that employees are adequately trained and certified to perform the work they’re asked to do.

Each state and territory has the responsibility of applying and enforcing the Model Work Health Safety Regulations, meaning that the principles and framework of workplace health and safety are common across Australia, but there are legal specifics unique to each jurisdiction.

How can I make a Workplace Health and Safety claim?

Should you need to make a Workplace Health and Safety claim, there are processes to complete beforehand. All workers in Australia are covered by WorkCover; a compulsory insurance. Workplaces across Australia must provide this insurance to all of their full-time, part-time and casual workers. This is sometimes referred to as “workers’ compensation”.

In general, to make a workers’ compensation claim, it is necessary to:

  • See your doctor for a diagnosis, any necessary treatments and to document and certify your injury.
  • Report the injury to your employer. There are generally time limits as to when this must be done, which differ between states. You can do this by making an entry with your workplace injury book, which every workplace is legally obliged to maintain.
  • Submit your claim to your state’s workers’ compensation scheme. Make sure to include an account and documentation of any expenses incurred. If you require time off work, attach a certification from a medical practitioner advising the duration of the leave.

An agent of your scheme will progress your claim from there.

Before lodging a claim, it may be worthwhile to speak to receive a second opinion on your situation. What’s My Claim Worth claims advisors can help guide you through the process, assess the value of your claim and connect you with a specialised lawyer if necessary.

What obligations does my employer have for my health and safety?

Employers are legally obliged to provide a safe and healthy workplace for all their employees. Simply meeting regulations is not enough to guarantee this.

Employers must ensure that each employee has had accurate training for the work they are asked to perform. They must ensure that there are safe systems of work and that these are followed, including through appropriate supervision.

While it is the employer’s obligation to ensure a healthy and safe workplace, employees can assist by identifying any hazards, speaking out in case of flaws or breaches, and maintaining and contributing to the standard of health and safety.

Do I have a workers’ compensation claim?

What’s My Claim Worth’s expert claim advisors can help you to understand the value of your potential workers’ compensation claim, as well as your eligibility to claim. Once confirmed, our team can connect you with our network of legal professionals across Australia.

We can help you understand your rights, the value of your potential claim and the different pathways to achieving the compensation you deserve. We back this up with a No Win, No Fee guarantee (excluding defendant costs if the claim is litigated), meaning you can get on with your rehabilitation without worrying about the finances.