Can’t Rely on Officials to Declare Work Environment Safe

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Can’t Rely on Officials to Declare Work Environment Safe

31/05/2013

Often, when visiting a work site and sighting a potential hazard, our clients will inform us that WorkSafe (or another authority body) has visited the site and said things are fine. But a recent case has verified this is insufficient evidence to declare an area, machine or task as safe.

In the ACT a case ruling (Gerald Brennan v Capital Weed Control Pty Ltd AND Anor, 2013) has shown that companies cannot rely on the words of an official or authority representative that the area, job, tools or equipment are safe.

It is the employer’s or PCBU’s duty of care to ensure the safety of work, and this cannot be delegated to others. At all times it remains a duty to take precautions to ensure workplace safety, such as doing checks, even if a regulatory official has visited and confirmed that the area appears fine to work in.

It is important to remember that an official’s role is typically an informal inspection, and does not include the ability to make decisions on your business functions or declare areas safe – that duty will always remain with the employer or PCBU.

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