The cost of lost labor and workers’ compensation claims has a significant impact on the Australian economy. The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act gives employers specific obligations to help curb the rise in workers’ compensation claims and get injured workers back to work more quickly.
Here is a closer look at how OHS legislation influences workers’ compensation and employee health.
What Is Workers Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance offered in every territory and state throughout Australia. It covers employers when employees become injured or ill due to work-related events. Any business with full-time, part-time, or casual employment must enroll in compensation insurance coverage in their state or territory.
The scheme for each state and territory varies as each government regulates and administers the individual policy. For example, New South Wales amended its NSW Workers Compensation Scheme with the Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2012.
In Queensland, the insurance schemes are administered by the state. In Victoria, South Australia, and NSW, insurers act as agents on behalf of the government. In the ACT, Northern Territory, Western Australia, and Tasmania, private insurers underwrite the workers’ compensation schemes.
Review the latest workers’ compensation legislation and work health and safety laws in your state or territory to explore requirements for employers and employees. The laws are occasionally revised to encourage early return to work, limiting the impact of work-related injuries on the economy.
Workers Compensation and Occupational Health and Safety
Work-related injuries cost the Australian economy $61.8 billion in 2012, representing 4.1% of the country’s GDP. One of the goals of the OHS Act is to reduce the occurrence of work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths.
The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act was created to provide consistent national health and safety regulations. The OHS Act does not cover workers’ compensation. Workers compensation remains regulated individually by each state and territory. However, OHS is still an important part of workplace safety.
Why is OHS important? Under OHS laws, employers have an obligation to maintain a reasonably safe work environment. As part of this obligation, employers may need to enroll their employees in training courses to give them the skills and knowledge for dealing with workplace hazards.
Whose responsibility is OHS in the workplace? The responsibility to comply with OHS regulations belongs to the employer. Depending on the state or territory, the employer must also comply with specific workers’ compensation regulations.
While the regulations vary in each state and territory, the employer typically needs to handle the following obligations:
- Maintain a safe working environment
- Consult with employees about safety risks
- Develop procedures for dealing with safety issues
- Notify the official regulator of any workplace incidents
- Maintain written records of all workplace injuries
The OHS Act includes the same requirements for PCBUs. Employers have a duty of care, originally outlined in the 1985 Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Act, and revised in the 2004 OHS Act.
The requirements include the need to take reasonable steps to eliminate risks to health and safety. If employers cannot eliminate the risks, they must reduce those risks. Employers must also provide and maintain safe systems of work and adequate training.
What Do You Do If You Are Self-Employed?
Self-employed individuals and sole traders cannot take out workers’ compensation policies. To protect against loss of income due to injury, self-employed individuals should consider taking out income protection or combined life insurance.
Income protection policies offer long-term protection, covering between 50% and 70% of your income. Some protection insurance options cover accident and sickness only while others provide short-term unemployment insurance. You may also combine both options to protect against accidents, sickness, and unemployment.
What Are the Benefits of Health and Safety Training?
Workplace health and safety training courses help create a safe work environment, reducing the risk of workplace injuries. This limits the chances of workers needing to file insurance claims.
Training may be mandatory or optional, depending on the industry. However, every employer has the responsibility to maintain reasonably safe and healthy working conditions and to provide workers with all necessary safety precautions.
If you are an employer, the OHS Act and the worker’s compensation legislation in your state or territory provide strict guidelines for maintaining a safe work environment. Instituting safety management plans and enrolling employees in training courses are a couple of requirements. Employees working in high-risk industries may need training like Asbestos Awareness Training, Asbestos Removal Course, Working at Heights Training, Working at Heights Course, etc. to assess workplace hazards.
To comply with local and government legislation, determine which training programs are needed in your industry. Contact AlertForce for assistance in selecting the appropriate courses.