The WHS Act and Regulations require persons who have a duty to ensure health and safety to ‘manage risks’ by eliminating health and safety risks so far as is reasonably practicable, and if it is not reasonably practicable to do so, to minimise those risks so far as is reasonably practicable.
Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) will have health and safety duties to manage risks if they:
- engage workers to undertake work for them, or if they direct or influence work carried out by workers
- may put other people at risk from the conduct of their business or undertaking
- manage or control the workplace or fixtures, fittings or plant at the workplace
- design, manufacture, import or supply plant, substances or structures for use at a workplace
- install, construct or commission plant or structures at a workplace.
Deciding what is ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm requires taking into account and weighing up all relevant matters, including:
- the likelihood of the hazard or risk concerned occurring
- the degree of harm that might result from the hazard or risk
- knowledge about the hazard or risk, and ways of eliminating or minimising the risk
- the availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or minimise the risk, and
- after assessing the extent of the risk and the available ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, the cost associated with available ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, including whether the cost is grossly disproportionate to the risk.
Officers (for example, company directors) must exercise due diligence to ensure that the business or undertaking complies with the WHS Act and Regulations. This includes taking reasonable steps to:
- gain an understanding of the hazards and risks associated with the operations of the business or undertaking
- ensure that the business or undertaking has and uses appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety.
A person can have more than one duty and more than one person can have the same duty at the same time.
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Source Document: Code Of Practice: How To Manage Work Health And Safety Risks 2011
Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/
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